SLO County Jail managing nine cases of influenza this month
–The flu season is affecting the state and nation as a whole and the San Luis Obispo County Jail is no different. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement Wednesday afternoon about its current flu situation.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office has been managing influenza cases in the County Jail with the help of the Public Health Department. The first case this year appeared March 8, 2020, and to date there are nine cases of confirmed influenza,” the statement said. Four of those patients have recovered from their symptoms and have been released from isolation and are back into their housing units. “This is generally in line with what we expect to see during the flu season in the jail,” the statement said.
The jail is considered a “congregate living setting” because of the close quarters. Multiple cases of the flu at one time are common. The jail follows the CDC guidelines for the management of influenza cases in a congregate living setting.
Per the guidelines, housing units where influenza patients were identified are placed on quarantine, meaning that they are limited in movement, the statement said. Court appearances are being conducted via video conferencing as a response to these influenza cases and resulting quarantines.
To date, they have had seven housing units on quarantine, and two housing units have been released from quarantine. Each housing unit contains between 5 and 40 people. Housing units are released from quarantine after seven days of no new cases. Each person in the housing unit is offered medicine (Tamiflu) to help prevent them getting the flu. So far, no new cases of flu have been identified in the quarantined units.
Influenza is a virus that is different from COVID-19. “We have tested jail patients for COVID-19 and none have come back positive,” said the sheriff’s office in a statement “The jail’s protocol for testing, which was developed in conjunction with experts, is to test any person with fever and cough or respiratory symptoms for influenza. If these results show influenza, then the person is treated for influenza. If the test is negative for influenza, the patient is tested for COVID-19.”
“We are remaining vigilant in screening each inmate entering the jail, and immediately isolating them if they have any symptoms of illness.” The jail has taken many extra precautions during this time, including extra cleaning of cells and common areas, instructing staff on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and education to the patients and the inmate population as a whole, the statement said.
The jail’s chief medical officer is in close contact with the County of San Luis Obispo’s Public Health Department for guidance, and follows all State and Federal guidelines from the California Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control on both influenza and COVID-19,” the statement said. “In addition, we have been in consultation with other jails across California to ensure our policies are in line with best practices.”
“The best way to prevent influenza is by getting the vaccine, which is available prior to each flu season.”