Flu outbreak reported at KCI

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By Greg Summers

KERSHAW – Dormitories at Kershaw Correctional Institute on Gold Mine Highway are under lockdown and visitations have been cancelled after a flu outbreak began at the medium security prison last week.

S.C. Department of Corrections spokesman Clark Newsome said Monday, Sept. 16, that 76 prisoners and employees had been sickened with coughs, congestion and high fevers since inmates began complaining of flu-like symptoms Sept. 10.

“We’ve had a number of people who have been tested positive for the flu or coming up with flu-like symptoms: 70 inmates and six employees,” Newsome said.

Newsome said the prison locked down the dormitories and cancelled weekend visitation after DHEC confirmed the presence of influenza Wednesday, Sept. 11.

He said health officials believe the virus came in with a guard or another employee.

Newsome said approximately 36 inmates and employees had displayed symptoms as of late last week but the number “crept up” over the weekend.

He said there have been no complications reported to date, just “classic signs” such as congestion, high fever, chills, “that kind of thing.”

Newsome said though conventional wisdom holds that a person with the flu ceases to be contagious after 48 hours with no fever, prison officials prefer to wait five days before clearing a patient.

Even though the number of people reporting symptoms had slowed by Monday, Newsome said, it was still too early to tell when the restrictions would be lifted.

“We think it’s doing a little bit of good, at least in keeping it from spreading so fast,” Newsome said. “You don’t want something like this getting spread in the prison, and you don’t want it getting to the outside.

“We’re hoping we can get past this initial onset and get it cleared up,” he said.

Newsome said the prison usually offers flu vaccines for inmates and employees over age 55, but since it’s still so early in the flu season, the prison’s stock of vaccine isn’t scheduled to come in until the end of September.

Kershaw Correctional Institution (KCI), is located along Gold Mine Highway, about four miles northeast of the town of Kershaw.

It is a Level 2, medium-security prison that houses 1,522 inmates. 

KCI has 262 employees.


Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151