Delaware prison reports influenza outbreak

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

A correctional facility in Delaware is reporting an outbreak in influenza cases among inmates, causing them to cancel several activities.

The Delaware Department of Corrections said 34 inmates at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington have been tested positive for the flu virus.

The spike at the correctional facility matches overall flu trends in the state of Delaware, said director of the Delaware Division of Public Health Dr. Karyl Rattay.

“What our numbers in Delaware are telling us are given the significant increase over the last couple of weeks we know we are in the midst of our flu season peak,” she said.

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“There’s also an increase in cases at the Howard Young Correctional Facility, and it’s not surprising you would see in a facility what is being seen out in the community—but it can be more difficult to control because you’re in close quarters.”

Rattay said it’s possible that staff and visitors brought the virus in from outside the building.

“Staff certainly could come in feeling fine not realizing they’re contagious, or visitors, but often times you’re contagious 24 hours before you get symptoms,” she said. “Also some of the inmates get exposed in court houses, for example.”

The Delaware Division of Public Health reported 92 new lab-confirmed flu cases across the state for the week ending Feb. 27, which is more than double the number of cases from the week before. DPH has also been helping individuals at the correctional facility get tested, and is encouraging staff and inmates to get vaccinated. 

In the meantime, all visitor and volunteer dates have been cancelled, programs and chapel services have been cancelled and the gym and fitness center are closed. Anything deemed “unnecessary” will be halted, and court and police committals are being moved to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.

Rattay said that as more individuals get vaccinated the less the virus will spread. She said if someone feels ill, has a temperature more than 101, is coughing and aching, they should stay home so they don’t spread it to others.


DPH is currently reporting 92 new lab-confirmed flu cases for the week ending Feb. 27, which is more than double the number of cases from the week before.

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