At least 220 inmates and three staff have been sickened with an unknown stomach ailment at a large state prison in northeastern Arizona, prison authorities said on Thursday.
Authorities at Arizona State Prison Complex-Winslow said they are working with local and state health officials to try to determine what caused the gastro-intestinal illness first reported in two units on Tuesday afternoon.
The sick inmates have been treated on-site and none has required transport to a medical facility, said corrections spokesman Andrew Wilder, adding that none of the cases is believed to be life-threatening.
Laboratory samples are being analyzed to find the cause, Wilder said, and it will be at least Friday before any results are known.
"We're trying to get some certainty about what this is at this point," he said. "That will at the very least guide us in what we need to do."
He declined to speculate on the possible cause of the outbreak. Symptoms have included nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, chills and fever.
As a precaution, authorities at the Arizona facility said they have brought in meals from outside and restricted inmates to their living quarters. The two units, Kaibab and Coronado, also are being scrubbed with a bleach solution.
All movement of inmates in and out of the prison has been stopped, including minimum security off-site work crews, officials said.
Outside visits have also been canceled during the usually busy upcoming Labor Day weekend for the two affected units, which house as many as 1,428 inmates combined.
Authorities at California's San Quentin State Prison have said six inmates there have been infected by Legionnaire's disease, and that 85 are under observation.
(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler) Photo credit: Global Panorama/Flickr