Detainee at St. Thomas Jail Tests Positive for Tuberculosis

The Alexander A. Farrelly Criminal Justice Complex on St. Thomas (Submitted photo)

A detainee at the Criminal Justice Complex on St. Thomas has tested positive for tuberculosis, the Bureau of Corrections reported Tuesday.

As part of BOC’s medical intake and screening process, the detainee’s test returned positive on Monday and they were immediately transported to Schneider Regional Medical Center for additional treatment and care, according to a BOC news release.

“Under the leadership of Dr. Linda Callwood, BOC’s medical team began testing all  inmates/detainees housed in the specific housing unit along with staff who may have come in contact with the TB positive detainee. At this time, no other inmate/detainee or staff tested positive for tuberculosis,” the news release stated. 

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It usually attacks the lungs, but also can attack any part of the body, such as the kidneys, spine, and brain. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick, the release stated. 

“Medical screening is necessary to identify potential illnesses and to ensure that inmates/detainees with known illnesses are identified for further assessment and continued treatment,” said BOC Director Wynnie Testamark.

The bureau has taken concrete steps to minimize medical-related risk at its facilities in accordance with CDC guidelines, she said.

The tuberculosis case comes just two weeks after 14 detainees at the John A. Bell Adult Correctional Facility on St. Croix tested positive for COVID-19. St. Croix’s prison has seen one other reported COVID-19 outbreak, back in July. The St. Thomas jail had an outbreak in August 2020 and a second outbreak in August 2021.

The Criminal Justice Center is still on modified lockdown, with continuous disinfectant and cleaning, the news release stated. Inmate movement has been restricted within the facility. All visits by vendors and all inmate transfers have been suspended until further notice. In-person visits, work details, and prisoner furloughs remain suspended, as they have been since the start of the pandemic. Court hearings held virtually remain unaffected. Attorneys may visit with prisoners via secure video conference by contacting the facility to schedule a video visit.