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7 cases of swine flu confirmed at Pinellas County Jail

LARGO — Seven inmates at the Pinellas County Jail have tested positive for swine flu, and a total of 32 have shown flulike symptoms, sheriff's officials said.

In the meantime, the Sheriff's Office has quarantined five male and four female housing units containing about 320 people. Those inmates are not sick, but did come into contact with the people with flu symptoms.

In response, jail officials have stopped "nonessential movement" around the jail, which means inmates are not allowed to go to different areas in the complex for recreation, church or group meetings.

The situation is not unexpected, because swine flu has swept across the world in a pandemic, said jail medical director Timothy Bailey. Given that fact, he said the jail cases were unavoidable. He said no one has gotten severely ill.

People with flu symptoms are isolated in individual rooms or in small pods together.

The inmates under quarantine are not allowed to have "nonessential movement" around the jail for such things as recreation. Also, jail workers are being especially aggressive about cleaning all areas of the jail, Bailey said.

So far, 31 people have died from swine flu in Florida, according to an updated toll from the state Health Department. The department reported a total of 3,321 confirmed cases.

Federal health officials have sent testing supplies to the state's four labs, allowing state technicians to test samples without the additional step of sending them to the Centers for Disease Control.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

7 cases of swine flu confirmed at Pinellas County Jail 07/30/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 30, 2009 9:48pm]
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