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Four prison inmates are taken to hospital in suspected TB outbreak

INMATES at a Dublin prison have been hospitalised following an outbreak of TB.

The Herald understands four inmates at Cloverhill Prison have been taken to hospital suffering from the potentially fatal disease.

It is believed the conditions of a further 17 inmates with suspected TB are being kept under review.

The outbreak of the contagious lung infection, which thrives in crowded living conditions, came to attention last Thursday after several prisoners fell ill.

Three of the individuals were taken to St James's Hospital, while the fourth was brought to the Mater.

The prisoners involved in the suspected cases had displayed symptoms of the illness.

The disease is transmitted by air and can quickly jump from person to person

It is particularly contagious in a prison environment.

It is not the first time the prison has been the centre of a TB scare.

In 2002, an inquiry was launched after an outbreak of the illness at the west Dublin facility.

One prisoner was confirmed as suffering from the disease, while tests were carried out on dozens of other people, including inmates, health workers and prison staff.

The latest incident comes in the wake of a swine flu scare in the jail last January.

On that occasion, a number of prisoners were placed in quarantine, and at least one inmate was hospitalised.