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Officials: 7 flu cases at Nassau County jail confirmed

Seven inmates at the Nassau County jail have been confirmed with either swine flu or seasonal flu, health and jail officials said Thursday.

As many as 22 inmates were treated in the past two weeks for flu-like symptoms, said Nassau University Medical Center spokeswoman Shelley Lotenberg. The hospital provides care to inmates.

"The Sheriff's Department has had a small number of inmates with confirmed cases of either seasonal influenza or H1N1 virus," said Lotenberg in a statement. "These cases are monitored constantly by the correctional center's medical services provider, the Nassau University Medical Center, and all appropriate treatment protocols are being followed."

The jail's general counsel, Elizabeth Loconsolo, confirmed the cases and said the illnesses were being addressed.

One woman released from jail Tuesday, Lorraine Walker, said a section containing 25 women was quarantined a few days ago after several came down with flu-like symptoms.

Walker said correction officers began wearing masks over the past week or so, but did not tell inmates why.

"They're wearing masks, but we don't have no protection," said Walker, who completed a 50-day sentence for petty larceny. "They never confirmed it to us. We asked, but they would say this is a safety precaution. But somebody overheard a corporal telling one of the officers one of the girls had swine flu."

The latest cases come after the jail isolated several inmates to contain a possible outbreak back in December. At that time, one inmate at the jail in East Meadow was confirmed to have swine flu, and authorities quarantined a section holding dozens of men.

Four other inmates had complained of flu-like symptoms and were administered a regimen of the anti-viral Tamiflu.

Thursday, Lotenberg said three inmates at the jail are still receiving treatment for either strain of flu, and that both jail employees and inmates have been offered vaccinations.

"We have been informed by the correctional center that these few cases have not impacted the daily operations of the facility or inmates' daily lives other than on a sporadic basis, as dictated by the medical providers," Lotenberg said.

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