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Fears grow as second jail officer catches TB

A SECOND prison officer at a Dublin jail is being treated for potentially fatal tuberculosis.

The officer, who is in his late 40s, is based at Cloverhill remand prison where another officer was confirmed to have the disease last month.

Fears for the safety of staff and inmates at the west Dublin jail are now growing.

The first officer, who is in his 20s, was not diagnosed with TB following initial chest X-rays and was thought to have contracted meningitis.



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However, subsequent medical examinations found that he had the disease. Similarly in the new case the officer the presence of TB was not spotted by a chest X-ray.

He is understood have the infectious disease in his abdomen and is undergoing medical treatment. The other prison officer is in hospital.

The confirmation of the second case comes as a controversial questionnaire has been circulated in the prison. Forms were left in communal areas.

However the questionnaire did not have a heading or detail which authority was seeking the information. It was not signed and officers have expressed serious concerns about its nature.

"We are concerned that it involves serious freedom of information and data protection issues. It has been left in communal areas for us to fill in but we don't even know who is asking for the information."

In the past officers have expressed their concerns about the roles of both the HSE and the Irish Prison Service in dealing with the TB issue at the jail and the duty of care onus on these bodies for prisoners and staff alike.

Eight cases of TB were confirmed in an outbreak of TB in June. Then, two prisoners were treated in hospital, while the remaining six were placed in an isolation unit at the jail.

Staff with young families in particular were worried about picking up any infections and demanded counselling and screening.

In March this year the Herald highlighted the initial outbreak at the jail which was followed later by an outbreak in the Midlands prison.

TB figures for 2009 show that 472 cases across Ireland were reported during the year -- a slight increase on the year before.

cmallon@herald.ie