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Calif. Judge Suspends Court Cases as H1N1 Outbreak Hits Inmates

flu-shotAn outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus at a Fresno County jail has forced a California judge to suspend criminal proceedings for the inmates this week.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence O’Neill issued the emergency order on Tuesday, Jan. 14, one day after the death of an inmate from H1N1 and the spread of the virus to another inmate who had also appeared in the court last week.

The suspension was ordered to ensure the health and safety of judges, court staff, attorneys and the public, the Fresno Bee reported.

The suspension is in effect for one week for the county jail inmates, where hundreds have already been quarantined because of the outbreak among the prison population there, but  will not affect other federal cases from nearby counties from proceeding as scheduled.
The county jail inmate who died at a local hospital on Monday, was 60 years old. Vaccines are being offered to the county jail inmates  About three inmates so far have been positively diagnosed with H1N1 and seven others are showing “flu-like” symptoms.
According to The New School website,  the H1N1 virus flu symptoms usually develop within three to four days of contact with an infected person; however it can take up to seven days. After the seven-day restriction, O’Neill should receive more information from the Fresno County jail and decide to end the ban or continue it.

The H1N1 flu virus caused a world-wide pandemic in 2009. It is now a human seasonal flu virus that also circulates in pigs, according the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, Although the pandemic ended in August 2010, the strain is still circulating and this year it seems that the fatality rate is growing among young people  – age 25 to under 65.  Health officials are encouraging the public to take the vaccine if they can.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on twitter @ReporterandGirl or on and visit her website at

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