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Friday 18 January 2019

Mothers and babies are isolated after swine flu diagnosis at women's prison

The Dochas Centre is located in Mountjoy Prison (stock image)
The Dochas Centre is located in Mountjoy Prison (stock image)
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Five inmates of the Dochas Centre at Mountjoy Prison and their babies have been quarantined after a fellow prisoner tested positive for swine flu.

A source at the Dublin women's prison confirmed the unnamed inmate tested positive for swine flu, the strain of the A H1N1 virus that caused a global pandemic in 2009 after it first broke out in Mexico.

When the virus struck here in 2009, 24 people died and more than a thousand were hospitalised - including 87 people whose illness was so severe they were treated at the hospitals' intensive care units.

The virus is now regarded as a seasonal disease.

Thirty-two people tested positive for the H1N1strain between February 26 and March 4, according to the most recent flu report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

Vaccines protecting against the strain have been available here since the 2010/2011 flu season.

However, due to the highly contagious nature of the bug, the Dochas inmate and other women and children who may have been exposed to the virus have been put in quarantine for a few days to prevent spreading of the virus.

"One person has swine flu," the source told the Irish Independent.

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

The inmate was diagnosed with flu while undergoing a routine check-up at a Dublin hospital.

Staff who escorted the patient to 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 prisoners have been vaccinated to prevent a potential outbreak.

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

However, according to the HPSC, while influenza outbreaks continue to be reported each week, reporting levels were impacted by last week's adverse weather conditions.

Irish Independent

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