More Than 300 Tulsa County Jail Inmates Sick With Stomach Ailments

Friday, February 18th 2011, 12:13 pm
By: News On 6 & Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- More than 300 inmates have become sick in two days at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center in Tulsa.

Symptoms include stomach cramps and diarrhea, according to a news release from the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.

"Once it hit 150, you have the uh-oh factor kick in," Chief Deputy Michelle Robinette said. 

As of Friday night, less than 100 inmates remained sick.

"We put the facility on a soft lockdown," Robinette said.  "That is where there's no movement in and out of the pods, which are their housing units. They maintain movement inside, but nobody leaves or comes in to stop the spread from other pods."

It started Wednesday at 9 a.m. with several inmates complaining of stomach cramps and diarrhea. By 11 a.m., the number of cases began skyrocketing. An hour later, the jail called the health department because it had 150 sick inmates.

"Our medical staff unit is very well-equipped and can maintain 20, 30 cases of the flu and stuff like that, but when we had that number and the fact that it continued to grow, we wanted to get the health department in here as soon as possible to help us," Robinette said.

By the end of the day, the number had risen to almost 350. The health department checked the kitchen first, testing the food and water. The jail keeps a sample of each meal they make to test later if something like this arises.

The health department is also interviewing every single inmate, sick or not, to get more details.

In the meantime, the jail is ramping up its use of disinfectants for the common areas and inmates are responsible for their cells.

Two jail employees had slight symptoms and were sent home. They were both back at work and feeling fine Friday.

Once the health department finishes interviewing all 1,500 inmates, they'll do some lab tests and issue a report on the cause, possibly by next week.