Tuberculosis strikes twelve in prison

At least seven employees and five prisoners at Svartsjö prison outside Stockholm have been infected by the lung disease tuberculosis.

A newly arrived inmate at the institution was found in October last year to be carrying TB. By the time the disease was discovered he had already shared a room with two other prisoners for two weeks, reported the union newspaper Sekomagasinet.

Personnel and prisoners who have come into contact with the infected man have been tested. In total, twelve people have so far been tested positive, according to the infectious disease unit in Stockholm. Three employees have reported the disease as a workplace injury.

The man who was first infected has been treated in hospital, while none of the others who are infected have yet shown outward signs of the illness. They are now being checked at Karolinska university hospital and will be offered antibiotics.

The ombudsman at service union Seko, Roal Nilsson, has demanded that the Swedish Prison and Probation Service implements strict measures for stopping the disease from spreading. There should also be plans for dealing with such outbreaks of TB.

“The preparedness which exists today obviously isn’t good enough – the prison service must have its own response plan,” he told Sekomagasinet.

The head of Svartsjö prison Christine Hemborg told TT that the institution was revising its routines together with the union and infectious diseases authorities.

Infectious diseases doctor Bo Svenungsson said that the risk of TB-infection is greater in the prison service than in other institutions where people live in close proximity to each other.

Vaccination cannot give total protection against the disease but is still recommended for staff caring for tuberculosis patients, said Svenungsson to TT.

“The most important thing is to remember that the illness exists. If a person is coughing for at least three weeks, you ought to be thinking of tuberculosis,” said Bo Svenungsson.

TT/The Local