Flu Sickens Rikers Inmates

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rikersislandThere's now a swine flu outbreak at the jail complex on Rikers Island. Mayor Bloomberg says four inmates have tested positive for the H1N1 virus, and four others probably have the illness.

The mayor says correction and health officials are taking steps to keep the virus from spreading :

'What we have done, before we sent any prisoner to court today, we checked each prisoner and none of them had any symptoms of the flu.'

He says officials are isolating ill inmates, and preparing additional inmate health screenings. The head of the correction officers' union, Norman Seabrook, says he believes the numbers are higher, and he wants action.

'I think decontaminating the facility – properly cleaning and sanitizing it – is the right thing to do.'

Seabrook says Rikers should temporarily move inmates to unused areas, sanitize the main cell blocks, then move inmates back in. Scientists say the flu virus lives on surfaces for three days, and such cleaning has little benefit because of recontamination.