Thursday 22 March 2018

Women and babies in isolation after Dochas swine flu case

Contingency measures have been put in place at Mountjoy
Contingency measures have been put in place at Mountjoy

Five female prisoners and their babies have been quarantined at the Dochas Centre in Mountjoy Prison after a fellow inmate tested positive for swine flu.

The prison yesterday confirmed that the inmate tested positive for H1N1, the same virus that caused a global pandemic in 2009 after it broke out in Mexico.

Twenty-four people died when the virus struck Ireland in 2009.

Another thousand were hospitalised, including 87 people whose illness was so severe they were treated at the hospital's Intensive Care Units. Most had underlying medical conditions.

The virus - which has never really gone away - is now regarded as a seasonal flu virus.

Thirty-two people tested positive for the H1N1 strain between February 26 and Sunday last week, according to the most recent flu report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

Vaccines that protect against the strain have been available in Ireland since the 2010/2011 flu season.

However, due to the very contagious nature of the bug, the infected inmate, the five mothers and their babies have been put in quarantine for a few days to prevent spreading of the virus.

"One person has tested positive for swine flu," a senior source told the Herald.

"We've put in place a number of contingency measures. People have to be isolated."


It was reported that the inmate was diagnosed with the flu virus during a routine check-up at a Dublin hospital.

Staff who escorted the woman to the hospital have been told to remain at home for a few days as a precaution, according to the source.

However, officials at the Irish Prison Service would not divulge any details about the inmate's condition - such as whether she contracted the virus while in prison - citing confidentiality.

Officials could not say if inmates have been vaccinated to prevent an outbreak.

The Health Service Executive was unable to respond to queries yesterday over the woman's attendance at the hospital and a potential outbreak.

According to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), influenza outbreaks continue to be reported each week. It said reporting levels were impacted by the recent bad weather.

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