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Pendleton State Prison— Battling an Outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease

The first week of December brought more than a winter’s chill to Indiana’s Pendleton Correctional Facility inmates. It brought news of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, a bacterial lung infection that kills one-in-ten who contract the illness.

The facility had confirmed that three inmates had contracted the disease, and one of them had died. Another two were also likely to have it, but their diagnoses had yet to be confirmed.

Legionnaires’ disease impacts the lungs in a similar way to pneumonia. It is spread by aerosolized water droplets, such a mist or steam, and it is not spread by person-to-person contact. Once the diagnoses had been confirmed, the Indiana Department of Corrections had shut off hot water in the impacted units. Then, according to news reports, the department was working with the state health service and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to determine the bacteria’s source.

While Legionnaires’ can be treated with a course of antibiotics, part of the challenge is that treatment can be delayed since it can take anywhere between 2-14 days after exposure (or even longer) before someone shows any symptoms of the disease.

Another complicating factor is that another inmate at the same facility had recently died from COVID. COVID and Legionnaires are similar in that severe cases impact the lungs, and those with pre-existing issues are at higher risk for both diseases. So the facility has to make sure it is correctly monitoring, diagnosing, and treating any ill patients.

The Pendleton prison is not the only prison to have seen a recent Legionnaires outbreak. Two prisons in New Jersey and one in Connecticut have also been dealing with it in the past few months.

While the Indiana authorities appear to be taking the Legionnaires seriously, prisons have a duty to provide reasonable care for inmates. If you believe that you were at risk as an inmate due to prison conditions, or if you are concerned about the safety of a currently incarcerated relative, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss the issue as soon as possible. Contact Razumich & Associates today for a free case evaluation.

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