Botulism poisoning suspected in 7 Arizona prison inmates

FLORENCE, AZ - Seven Arizona prison inmates have been hospitalized with suspected botulism poisoning.

Pinal County officials say the inmates are from the Arizona State Prison Complex Eyman in Florence.

Officials say four inmates became seriously ill on Saturday, then late Saturday a fifth man arrived at the hospital who was exhibiting symptoms.

Before noon on Sunday, two more inmates were hospitalized.

All seven are in intensive care.

Officials say the process to confirm botulism takes time but treatment can begin after consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC released the anti-toxin to the qualified medical providers who are treating the affected inmates, according to officials.

Pinal County public health officials are working with the Department of Corrections and Arizona Department of Health Services on the investigation into the illness.

"We will continue to do searches and evaluate the menu and educate the inmates on the dangers of making the alcohol to try to keep them from consuming it," said Arizona Department of Corrections official Keith Smart.

Officials suspect the affected inmates were sickened with the toxin from home-made prison alcohol made from fermented fruit. Samples have been obtained and submitted to the CDC for testing.

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