Henrico jail contains small swine flu outbreak

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A small outbreak of the swine flu has been wiped out at the Henrico County Jail, but that's not stopping the efforts to keep the H1-N1 virus from coming back.

Larry Flythe is on the inside and he's not so afraid anymore, of catching the swine flu, even though twelve other inmates got it.

"Every morning there's a scramble for the mop bucket of cleaning supplies so we can get our individual sleeping areas clean," said Larry.

Larry, and the men with whom he shares a day room clean the beds, phones, and door handles. Pretty much anything you can touch. All of which is part of the jail's response to this relatively new virus.

"We'll give 'em a bucket of water with Clorox bleach solution in it, and tell them to wash everything down, and they do it," said Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade.

Last year, Sheriff Wade installed dispensers of hand sanitizer almost everywhere but because this is the jail, they can't be alcohol based.

"Because if it has alcohol in it, the inmates will drink it," Wade said.

Inmates who appear to show flu-like symptoms are kept in isolation as a precaution. They'll go to a nurse, if necessary.

"We try to contain it. We don't allow them to move throughout the jail. We keep them confined to their area," said Dayna Bango, Nurse Practitioner.

On average, the jail houses about 1,200 inmates a night. With so many people shuffling in and out - there's always the chance of a new infection.

"We've always got to be prepared for that when they walk in the door," said Wade.

So the anti-flu efforts continue and not just for the sake of public health.

"Financially, it's gonna cost us an awful lot if everybody in the jail catches it," Wade said.

Inmates like Larry, need no further convincing.

"It's habit, and it is worth it. Because again, we do not need to be getting ill, we don't heal as well as we used to or as quickly," Larry said.

All inmates go through a screening when they come here, and they're isolated until they're healthy enough to be in the general population.

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