UPDATE: Health officials link inmate sickness to food poisoning

TUCKER (KATV) - The Arkansas Health Department said it was bad food which caused hundreds of inmates to fall ill at an Arkansas prison.

At last count about 350 inmates in the Tucker Unit were placed in isolation for fear the sickness was a virus.

Prison officials say they were told by the ADH that chicken salad served over the weekend was believed to have started the outbreak of illnesses.

"The health department has not pinpointed which component of the chicken salad caused them to become sick," said Shea Wilson, communications administrator with Arkansas Department of Correction.

In the last three days the maximum-security unit has not allowed the transfer of inmates to other prisons or parole to those scheduled to leave.

"The five inmates whose parole was delayed went home today," Wilson added.

Visitation is expected to resume on Saturday and the transfer of inmates to other prisons on Monday.

The Tucker Unit's occupancy is currently at 849 prisoners.

Prison officials became very worried earlier in the week when the number of sick inmates grew by 100 overnight.

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