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Orange County jail remains closed on temporary quarantine

July 28, 2009 |  7:37 pm

Orange County men's jail will remain closed through Wednesday on temporary quarantine after five inmates were infected with swine flu last week and more were diagnosed over the weekend, officials said.

Three inmates were diagnosed with the H1N1 virus Thursday, and two more on Friday. Those cases prompted the jail's quarantine at 6 p.m. Friday, said Orange County sheriff's spokesman John McDonald.

On Monday, the county's Health Care Agency identified "additional positives" that made it necessary to extend the quarantine. They would not say how many, said Deanne Thompson, a spokeswoman for the agency.

The men's jail houses about 1,220 inmates, and those who were infected with the virus were segregated and cared for by healthcare officials, said Sheriff's Capt. Tim Board, who is responsible for Central Jail Complex operations.

"We're restricting all inmate movement in an effort to contain the virus and prevent it from spreading through our entire jail system," Board said.

Public visiting hours, normally scheduled on Friday through the weekend, were canceled for Saturday and Sunday, Board said.

Officials do not know how the inmates initially contracted the virus.

"Someone came into the jail with swine flu, and whether or not others did, or they were just passing it back and forth" is not clear, Thompson said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials confirmed 20 cases of swine flu in its jail system last week.

--Tami Abdollah