Mystery illness at Lowell; one prisoner has died


Published: Friday, July 26, 2013 at 6:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 at 6:36 p.m.

A mysterious illness has led officials to restrict the movements of more than 150 inmates at the Lowell Correctional Institution in northern Marion County while the state Department of Corrections and state Department of Health investigate.

Misty Cash, a spokeswoman for the DOC, said some inmates at the women’s prison are experiencing “flu-like symptoms.”

Because the problem has not been diagnosed, Cash said 156 inmates have been restricted in R Dorm. That does not mean all 156 have contracted the unknown illness.

An inmate from R Dorm, Yvonne Eugena McBride, 26, died Wednesday from what family members were told was pneumonia.

Cash confirmed McBride’s death, but because of federal privacy laws could not disclose if the woman’s death was connected to the mystery illness.

She would only say that McBride died Wednesday at Ocala Regional Medical Center.

Eugene McBride said he received a call on that day from a prison chaplain informing him of his daughter’s death. McBride said he asked about the cause of death and was told it was pneumonia. He said he hasn’t heard anything from Lowell officials.

Cash said the sickness was detected on Tuesday after someone reported being sick.

Craig Ackerman, a spokesman for Florida Department of Health in Marion County, said his office was notified about the condition at Lowell on Wednesday and is assisting the DOC with the investigation.

Ackerman described it as an “influenza-like illness.” He said officials await laboratory results.

McBride’s sister, Raegime, said she visited her sister in June and someone told her that her sister was too weak to get up. She said she insisted on seeing her sister and Yvonne McBride later showed up, telling her that she was weak and had been denied a request for medical help.

Yvonne McBride was arrested in January and charged as a principal to robbery with a deadly weapon, Marion County court records show. She was found guilty in June and sentenced to 55 months in prison, followed by two years of probation.

She arrived at Lowell on or about June 20.

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