Concerns over TB in prisons as warder is taken ill
Published 22/10/2011 | 05:00
FEARS of a deadly tuberculosis (TB) outbreak in Irish prisons were growing last night after a prison officer was hospitalised with the potentially deadly disease, which he contracted from an inmate.
Another 30 prison officers have tested positive for exposure.
News of the infection came as it was revealed that patients in a Drogheda hospital have also been exposed to the disease.
An officer from Cloverhill Prison in Dublin is currently in a serious condition in hospital after contracting the deadly disease.
Around 45 prison guards who were in contact with the infected prisoner have been screened for the disease and 30 have tested positive for exposure to TB.
Cloverhill is the country's leading remand prison and there are fears that inter-prison transfers could have spread the infection further.
It is understood that one prison officer in the midlands is currently being treated for TB.
During the summer, a prisoner detained at Cloverhill was diagnosed with TB.
After he fell ill, a number of staff were checked for symptoms. Since then, several members of staff took sick and were diagnosed with TB.
After the hospitalisation of the prison officer this week, 45 members of staff underwent screening tests. Some 30 tested positive for latent TB, indicating TB exposure. However, they are not contagious.
From Monday, those who tested positive will receive x-rays and lung tests.
In a meeting with prison officials yesterday, prison officers expressed outrage at the situation and some threatened a staff walkout.
It is understood that some members of staff were in tears at the news.
The Prison Service said the HSE was investigating the outbreak.
Meanwhile, the HSE has confirmed that a patient with TB was in the Emergency Department of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda for five days and could have infected others.
Some three patients who were in "close contact" with the TB patient have now been offered screening.