Golden-Jefferson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) in conjunction with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced today it is investigating an outbreak of intestinal illness among inmates at the Jefferson County Jail.
The investigation began on Friday afternoon, July 6, 2007, when the health department was notified by the facility's medical director that several inmates had presented with diarrheal illness and nausea. The ill inmates were isolated from others to prevent potential spread of disease and initial investigation began. Throughout the weekend the number of persons complaining of abdominal cramping and or nausea/vomiting increased to 53; nine of which were treated and released from area hospitals and one that still remains hospitalized. Currently there are 44 inmates still ill and in varying degrees of recovery at the facility.
Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink said, "I'm concerned about the health of our inmate population and the Sheriff's Office will strictly adhere to the recommendations set forth by the Jefferson County Department of Health and Environment."
The outbreak of intestinal illness appears contained to the jail facility and there is no known threat to the general public. The cause of the outbreak has not yet been determined and the health department is awaiting lab results from cultures and stool specimens collected as part of the investigation.
JCDHE Epidemiologist, Dr. Gayle Miller, said, "All efforts are being made to determine the cause of the illness and to prevent further cases. At this time, we are investigating the outbreak as a possible food borne illness outbreak."
Officials have initiated immediate disease control and surveillance measures including attempting to identify foods that may have been eaten by disease cases and which foods may have been contaminated. Some of the disease control measures undertaken thus far include isolating ill patients from the rest of the jail population; collecting appropriate laboratory specimens for testing; locking up approximately 3 and 1/2 days worth of food that was previously being served pending the need for testing; thoroughly washing down and disinfecting the kitchen and eating areas; and, questioning both sick and well inmates regarding their food intake.
When laboratory results are available and conclusive, JCDHE will provide an update to the illness outbreak.
- For more information contact, Dr. Mark B. Johnson, MD, MPH, JCDHE Executive Director at 303-271-5700.
- The Sheriff's Office has established an information hotline at 303-271-5898 in order to provide timely and accurate information about the progress of this incident.