DANVILLE — Officials at the Danville Correctional Center say that a respiratory virus, not influenza, was the illness that led to the lockdown of a housing unit at the center.
As a result, the quarantine period for the affected inmates in the housing unit is expected to last at least another two weeks, according to Tom Shaer, director of communications for the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Shaer said on Sunday that extensive tests conducted at the Illinois Department of Public Health laboratory and other medical facilities determined the outbreak was caused by a respiratory virus.
"This virus is in the Adenovirus class, and while not the flu, causes many similar symptoms," Shaer said in a written statement. "It usually runs its course over several days but is contagious for up to two weeks, the 'shedding period.'"
Among the symptoms reported were fever, headache, sore throat, mild cough and some chest pains with deep breathing.
"The Danville Correctional Center health care staff identified very early that an outbreak was occurring, and appropriate isolation and quarantine techniques were immediately initiated," Shaer said. "The quarantine period shall be safe and prolonged: two weeks from the last identified case."
According to Shaer, there are 1,835 inmates at Danville Correctional Center, with the staff working to limit the number with the virus.
The outbreak has been contained in one housing unit at the center.
Shaer said a few affected inmates were moved to the facility's infirmary in the Health Care Unit.
"Some of the first cases, discovered Wednesday, are already showing signs of improvement," Shaer said.
Eight new cases were diagnosed on Saturday and 10 on Sunday. A total of 71 inmates are affected; all are in either housing unit R3 or in the infirmary.
Since the virus is highly contagious, Shaer said no visitors or volunteers can enter the prison. In addition, there has been is no movement between Danville and other Illinois Department of Corrections facilities.
In addition, Shaer said all units at the correctional center have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, with medical and security staff members using surgical masks and gloves and taking other standard precautions .
Shaer thanked the Illinois Department of Public Health and University of Illinois at Chicago labs for identifying the virus.
"We will continue to work closely with IDPH and follow all proper procedures for the care and treatment of inmates and the safety and security of them and our hardworking staff at Danville Correctional Center," Shaer said.