Prison outbreak not caused by virus, maybe fungus

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Federal health officials are investigating an illness at an eastern Illinois prison that officials believe was caused by a fungus — not a virus.

Experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are conducting tests at the prison in Danville where inmates became sick late last month.

About 100 of 1,800 inmates have been affected.

Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer (SHAYR) says the Illinois Department of Public Health believes the illness was caused by histoplasmosis — a fungus in some Illinois soil that can be inhaled.

Officials say false-positive tests initially led them to ascribe the problem to the adenovirus.

Shaer says histoplasmosis is not contagious and there have been no new cases for a week.

The federal experts hope to recommend ways to avoid future outbreaks.

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