Hundreds of inmates quarantined as mumps spreads at Los Angeles jail, deputies say

A mumps outbreak this month at a Los Angeles County jail has infected more than a dozen inmates and triggered the quarantine of hundreds more, according to authorities.

At least one inmate came down with symptoms of the highly contagious virus and was being monitored at Men’s Central Jail starting on Oct. 22 — and as of Oct. 30, 18 inmates had tested positive for the virus, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which operates the Southern California jail.

Medical staff have quarantined and are monitoring 390 inmates, deputies said in a news release Thursday. Deputies said inmate visiting will be impacted at Men’s Central Jail from Thursday to Sunday.

“Scheduled inmate releases were not impacted,” deputies said. “Sheriff’s personnel are working with the Superior Court of California-County of Los Angeles to minimize the impact on court proceedings for those who were quarantined. Inmates still have access to contact their attorneys.

The initially infected inmate “exhibited signs of illness, displayed symptoms similar to influenza and had swollen glands around the neck,” deputies said, adding that medical staff “diagnosed these symptoms as the mumps.”

Authorities said 350 of the quarantined inmates have been given a measles, mumps and rubella vaccination.

“As a preventative measure, more than 200 sworn and civilian staff members assigned to Men’s Central Jail were also vaccinated,” deputies said. “So far, three (staff) members are under medical observation.”

Authorities said symptoms of the virus “usually occur 16 to 25 days after exposure and include swollen glands, fever, muscle aches, headache, and fatigue. Immunity to the mumps vaccine wanes over time, therefore, some people may still be vulnerable to contracting the virus, especially in closely-contained areas.”

Inmates and jail workers were provided with protective face masks, deputies said.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.