Diphtheria outbreak at Pollsmoor Prison contained, says Correctional Services

An outbreak of the disease caused the death of a 19-year-old inmate, with eight other inmates at the prison testing positive for it.

Pollsmoor Prison in Tokai, Cape Town. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Correctional Services says it has contained the diphtheria outbreak at Pollsmoor Prison.

The department confirmed that the outbreak claimed the life of a 19-year-old inmate.

Eight other inmates tested positive for the disease.

READ: No court for at least 2 weeks for Pollsmoor inmates exposed to diphtheria: DCS

The Department of Correctional Services Commissioner, Makgothi Thobakgale, said correctional services officials were also tested.

"We have 15 Correctional Services officials that were identified as contacts, with only three presenting symptoms. They were tested and released to isolate at home."

The commissioner added that a vaccination campaign was underway at the facility, and all eligible individuals would be receiving the diphtheria vaccine.

"We are obligated to ensure a safe environment. We have implemented a comprehensive set of measures to mitigate the spread of the disease within a correctional setting."

Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection that affects the nose and throat. The bacteria release a toxin that kills healthy tissues in the respiratory system.

Symptoms include difficulty breathing, an irregular heartbeat and fatigue