FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 3, 2008

CONTACT: Sebastian D’Elia, 908-527-4419
Tina Casey, 908-527-4346

 

UNION COUNTY JAIL IMPLEMENTS HEALTH PRECAUTIONS

 

Elizabeth, NJ – A diagnosis of staph infections on two corrections officers has led to the implementation of precautionary measures at the Union County Jail in Elizabeth. The infections, known as MRSA, are resistant to some types of antibiotic but are treatable with others.

“We are vigilant as always in ensuring that our jail population and our staff are fully protected,” said Brian P. Riordan, Director of the Department of Correctional Services.

Although the source of the infection is not known, precautions were undertaken immediately.

Staph infections are almost always spread by direct physical contact, including contact with contaminated objects like towels, clothing, or gym equipment. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, many staph infections, including MRSA, are mild and do not require treatment with an antibiotic, but some do.

To prevent the spread of infections, universal precautions include covering the infected area with a bandage, washing hands frequently with soap and water (an antibacterial soap is not necessary), not sharing towels and other personal items with others, and cleaning bathrooms regularly. Towels, clothing, and bedding should be washed in hot water with bleach, and dried in a hot air dryer.

The precautions undertaken at the County Jail include:

  • Informing all staff on universal precautions. This is in addition to prior training provided to staff. In addition, staff has been instructed to use protective gloves.
  • Reintroducing the use of bleach for general cleaning and laundry. Bleach had been banned by a previous jail administrator.
  • Washing down and sanitizing all common areas in the non-secure area of the jail, in duplication of due diligence procedures.
  • Increasing the use of disinfectants and bleach by custodial staff.
  • Promulgating operational custodial policy to address living area issues and decrease the spread of infections if an inmate is diagnosed with an infectious ailment.
  • Universal precaution education will be provided to all inmates.

General operations at the jail are continuing normally while these precautions are undertaken.

In addition, the appropriate public health officials have been contacted, and the jail’s infection control protocols have been assessed and approved by Runnells Hospital.

One corrections officer was diagnosed on Friday, September 26. Jail administrators were notified on Monday, September 29 and took immediate action upon this first notification.

Administrators were informed of the second diagnosis on the morning of Friday October 3.

For more information on staph, MRSA, and antibiotics, visit the New Jersey Department of Health at www.state.nj.us/health/cd/mrsa, or the Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/mrsa.

For information in Spanish, visit www.cdc.gov/spanish/especialesCDC/SARM.