Last week, the inmates consumed alcohol they made in the prison.
The inmates then began showing signs of botulism and required hospitalization. They were transferred to three hospitals in the Jackson area and each received an anti-toxin, Sharlot said.
To date, 15 of the 17 inmates remain hospitalized, according to a press release issued by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. One inmate was transferred to a federal prison in Oklahoma City before he began showing signs of botulism. He was also hospitalized.
Symptoms can occur six hours to 10 days after ingestion and include double vision, blurred vision, droopy eyes, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, muscle weakness and paralysis.
The CDC is conducting the lab analysis on patient samples.
The contents of the intoxicant were not immediately clear but the incident is being investigated by the Bureau of Prisons, Sharlot said.
FCI Yazoo City, a minimum security prison housing 1,310 male inmates, is currently on limited operations as a precautionary measure. It has temporarily ceased any outgoing movement of inmates and has suspended family visitation until further notice, the release stated.
The outbreak is the sixth botulism in the United States prison system since 2004, Sharlot said.