Officials on Tuesday said test results were pending to confirm five suspected cases of mumps among inmates at the Bergen County Jail, leading to a lockdown of the facility.
“The New Jersey Department of Health is aware of five individuals with suspected mumps at this facility in Bergen County,” state health department spokeswoman Dawn Thomas said. “The Department is working with local health departments in Bergen County on this ongoing investigation.”
No additional inmates or immigration detainees were being admitted to the jail, Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton told reporters at a news conference. Authorities were working with courts and other jails to temporarily house inmates. Visits were allowed to continue, but without direct contact to inmates.
“Right now, our jail is in an entire lockdown position,” the sheriff said. “It’s quarantined.”
In addition to holding people with criminal cases, the 1,150-bed facility also houses detainees for federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. There were conflicting reports about if the infected inmates were immigration detainees or those with criminal cases.
Bergen County Executive James Tedesco said the cases were among the “general population of inmates.”
However, Hudson County Freeholder William O’Dea told NorthJersey.com that jail officials there were alerted to check immigration detainees sent to Hudson County’s jail who were on the same flight as others sent to Bergen County. ICE officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Mumps outbreaks are not uncommon in correctional settings,” Tedesco said.
Meanwhile, officials ordered 1,000 doses of the MMR vaccine for jail staff and inmates.
The cases were “clinically diagnosed” instances among the jail’s inmate population, according to Derek Sands, chief of staff at the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the facility in Hackensack.
“While the cases have been clinically diagnosed, the tests have not yet been confirmed,” Sands said.
Mumps symptoms can include puffy cheeks and tender, swollen jaw, along with fever and headache, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease is spread by direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets.
About 1,000 people were infected with the disease from Jan. 1 to May 24, according to reports from the CDC.
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