Krome detainee falls ill with bacterial meningitis

 
 
A view of the Krome Detention Center. A foreign national at the detention center in West Miami-Dade has contracted bacterial meningitis, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Monday, Oct. 28, 2013.
A view of the Krome Detention Center. A foreign national at the detention center in West Miami-Dade has contracted bacterial meningitis, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Monday, Oct. 28, 2013.
Donna E. Natale Planas / Miami Herald

achardy@elNuevoHerald.com

A foreign national at the Krome detention center in West Miami-Dade has contracted bacterial meningitis, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Monday.

The detainee fell ill eight days ago and remains hospitalized. ICE says there is no cause for alarm that the disease will spread.

The sick individual was not identified and his country of origin was not listed.

An ICE statement indicated that the facility would not be evacuated or closed, but that detainees would be separated from each other in their housing pods.

“Based on the information we have right now, there is no reason for significant concern of disease transmission outside or within the facility,” the statement said.

The Miami-Dade Health Department has been notified, according to ICE.

“On Oct. 21, an individual in ICE custody at the Krome Detention Center in Miami was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis after being taken to the hospital,” the ICE statement said. “The individual remains hospitalized at this time. Based on the information we have right now, there is no reason for significant concern of disease transmission outside or within the facility.”

The Centers for Disease Control says on its website that bacterial meningitis can be “severe” for the person affected, but does not necessarily pose a risk of widespread infection.

“Fortunately, most of the bacteria that cause meningitis are not as contagious as diseases like the common cold or the flu,” the CDC website says. “Also, the bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.”

The first report about the ill detainee came in an email message from Mitchell J. Cohen, a Hallandale Beach attorney who represents clients at Krome.

According to Cohen, he was notified of the situation over the weekend along with other members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, when he received an email from the organization.

“Bacterial meningitis is potentially fatal,” Cohen said in his email. “The Department of Homeland Security has the moral obligation to notify the public immediately, as visiting friends and relatives of detainees may be unknowingly placing themselves at risk.”

In 2011, a Krome guard died of bacterial meningitis. At that time, federal authorities temporarily suspended visits to Krome. Also at the time, Krome officials said they had no reports of meningitis cases among detainees.

The guard, identified by his family as Juan Gabriel García, was 33.

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