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Gas leak sickens 49 Pennsylvania inmates

By the CNN Wire Staff
November 22, 2012 -- Updated 2322 GMT (0722 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nearly 50 female inmates were sickened by carbon monoxide
  • The last five returned to jail Thursday, York County officials said
  • The unit's ventilation system is the suspected source of the leak

(CNN) -- A carbon monoxide leak sickened 49 inmates at a county jail in York, Pennsylvania, with five hospitalized overnight, county officials said Thursday

Investigators suspect the heating and ventilation system in a unit housing female inmates was the source of the odorless, colorless gas. The women began showing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning on Wednesday evening, York County officials said in a written statement.

The affected inmates were sent to various hospitals, and five remained there until Thursday afternoon, the officials said. The women and inmates from another nearby unit were moved to different cells, and the affected unit was still closed Wednesday evening, they said.

Carbon monoxide can be released by the burning of hydrocarbons like gasoline, natural gas or propane. Symptoms of exposure include headaches, dizziness, nausea and fatigue can be mistaken for other illnesses, like the flu, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says.

York is about 90 miles west of Philadelphia.

CNN's Dave Alsup contributed to this report.

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