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Mass-Food Poisoning Hits Prisoners After Christmas Eve Meal

A New Zealand prison is dealing with the aftermath of a mass food poisoning after dozens of inmates fell ill on Christmas Eve.

The first prisoner at Spring Hill Corrections Facility in the Waikato region reported feeling ill on Christmas Eve.

From there another 46 inmates fell ill.

Some of the prisoners were diagnosed with campylobacter -- a bacterial infection that causes gastroenteritis.

At least 47 prisoners became ill after a meal on Christmas Eve. Image: Getty

It is not known how the outbreak started, but campylobacter can be transmitted through contaminated food or water (such as uncooked meat), unhygienic conditions or through contact with animals.

Megan Tuhoro, the prison's acting director, said staff were working with Public Health NZ to determine the source of the infection.

"There are clear and well-established quality and hygiene practices and policies to ensure that all food is prepared safely and to a high standard," she told Stuff NZ.

Four prisoners with pre-existing conditions were taken to hospital for preliminary assessments but were returned back to the facility without being admitted.

There are 879 prisoners at the Spring Hill Corrections Facility. Image: Getty

Nurses at the prison will continue to monitor the inmates.

"This includes close observation, hydration, electrolyte replacement, rest and paracetamol for pain relief," Tuhoro said.

Prison meals are all prepared in the facility's kitchen, which is staffed by up to 10 prisoners at a time who are completing a hospitality training course.

"There are clear and well-established quality and hygiene practices and policies to ensure that all food is prepared safely and to a high standard," Tuhoro said.

Spring Hill Corrections Facility has 879 inmates.