State prison officials say at least 489 inmates and six employees have become ill with a highly contagious gastroenteritis. The inflammation of the stomach can cause diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. To try to stop the spread, the state has closed the prison to all visitors – including attorneys - and to new inmates. All routine programs have been cancelled. Terry Thornton is with the State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation:
“There are hand sanitizers being put up in all of the housing units. Common areas are being cleaned and bleached as well to limit the spread of the illness.”
Thornton says some inmates have been given fluids intravenously, but none have required hospitalization. She expects the prison to remain closed through the beginning of next week.