Testing on a shipment of meat at the Utah State Prison has determined an E. coli outbreak among inmates didn't originate with that food.
Department of Corrections spokesman Jack Ford said two inmates contracted the food-born bacteria over the weekend and seven other inmates are experiencing symptoms.Health inspectors visited the prison for two consecutive days this week, and tests conducted in Colorado and reported late Tuesday afternoon failed to isolate the source, Ford said Wednesday.
E. coli, a flulike bacteria that can be deadly, most commonly is caused by poorly cooked beef.
Ford said the two inmates, one from the Lone Peak Facility and one from Uinta, came down with the illness on Friday. One was hospitalized briefly and both spent time in the prison infirmary prior to being returned to regular hous-ing.
When prison authorities learned of the outbreak, Ford said use of the beef from that shipment was suspended.
One of the inmates is with the prison's firefighting unit that often is gone days at a time. Although the crew generally eats sack lunches prepared in the prison's largest kitchen when they are on the job, Ford said authorities couldn't rule out the pathogen was contracted by a food source outside the prison. The other inmate, however, is from the Uinta unit that does not go on outside prison details, Ford said.
"We're still looking at other things trying to determine a source."
E. coli patients develop flulike symptoms, including extreme dehydration, nausea and vomiting. It is most deadly in young children and elderly people whose immune systems aren't as able to combat its virulent effects.