October 4, 2016

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Botulism in Inmates

Gordon Graham
Category: Corrections

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. And Today’s Tip deals with botulism.

Inmates may show symptoms of Botulism after consuming jail-made alcohol, commonly known as Pruno.

The very word strikes fear into the hearts of man. But what does that have to do with our jails?  

Botulism can result in muscle paralysis. The symptoms include feeling tired, double or blurred vision, vomiting, difficulty talking, weakness and paralysis that may involve the respiratory system. Generally, there is no fever associated with botulism. 

Again you ask, “OK Gordie, great informationbut what does that have to do with our jails? Well, I’ll tell you. 

Inmates may show symptoms of Botulism after consuming jail-made alcohol, commonly known as Pruno. Symptoms can appear as soon as twelve hours to three days after drinking a batch of toxic Pruno 

Many infected inmates require hospitalization. Recovery with proper medical care can often take weeks or even months. It can be life- threatening and expensive. 

Pruno in the jail is typically made by fermenting sugar and fruit in water. Other ingredients may include potatoes, corn, bread and rice. Recent outbreaks in some correctional facilities involved the use of potatoes, both baked and raw. 

This concoction is typically “brewed” in a re-sealable plastic bag commonly used and available to inmates throughout Correctional systems. Bags and socks that contain partially fermented residue are often shared among Pruno brewers spreading the toxins to other inmates. 

Aside from the health issue presented by the problem, the hospital charges for one recent outbreak cost tax payers over $500,000.

The risk of Botulism from consuming Pruno should be conveyed to all inmates on a regular basis. Staff conducting housing searches should be briefed on the dangers of Pruno and be made aware of the problem.

Remember, predictable is preventable.   

And that is Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off. 

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