Seven inmates are suspected of getting botulism from prisoner-made alcohol over the weekend in the Special Management Unit 1 on the Arizona State Prison Complex Eyman in Florence.
An eighth inmate was transported Monday for assessment and observation. His condition has not reached the threshold where the medical team and CDC believe anti-toxin should be administered. He is still undergoing evaluation.
Starting Saturday, four inmates were hospitalized because of severe illness and are now undergoing treatment. A fifth man arrived late Saturday and two sick inmates arrived before noon Sunday. All seven inmates are now in the intensive care unit.
The results for the botulism test will take a while to receive back, but proactive steps have been taken to help with the inmates' treatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were notified of a preliminary confirmation of the botulism poisoning in order for the state to be authorized an anti-toxin for treatment.
The CDC did release the anti-toxin to the medical team treating the sick inmates.
An investigation has been started by the Pinal County Public Health Officials working with the Department of Corrections and Arizona Department of Health Services into how the inmates would have gotten sick.
It is suspected that the inmates may have contracted the botulism poisoning from "hooch," a prison homemade alcohol, that is made from fermented fruit. Samples of the hooch were sent for testing and officials are still waiting on the lab results for confirmation.
Botulism is contracted by ingesting a toxin found in food. Botulism is not spread through breathing, sneezing or other means.
Symptoms of botulism are muscle weakness and difficulty speaking, chewing or swallowing. If untreated botulism and lead to generalized weakness, difficulty breathing and paralysis.