Meningitis confined to two inmates

December 10, 2002 12:00 am

By AMY LINDBLOM

A Sierra Conservation Center inmate who came down with bacterial meningitis Wednesday is recovering, and there are no new cases of the potentially deadly illness at the prison.

The 25-year-old inmate is still hospitalized at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, but is doing better, prison spokesman Jerry Underwood said. Underwood is in touch with doctors caring for the inmate.

Friday, a second inmate showed similar, less severe symptoms of bacterial meningitis. Prison officials opted to give 3,000 inmates and 56 correctional officers and staff who could have had contact with the inmate three doses of the powerful antibiotic Ciprofloxicin.

The first inmate was airlifted to Modesto after doctors at Tuolumne General Hospital suspected he had the illness.

By Thursday, he was seriously ill and his family was notified of his condition, Underwood said.

The 3,000 inmates and staff given Ciprofloxicin were living and working in the main gymnasium and the Levels I and II dormitories, where both of the sickened inmates had contact with others. Those dormitories were on "isolation status" for three days until all doses of the antibiotic were administered.

But as of Monday, all routines were back to normal at the prison, Underwood said.

Bacterial meningitis can be fatal, and is spread by close, intimate contact, according the National Centers for Disease Control.

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