Three inmates have already been hospitalized as a result of a disease outbreak at an Alabama correctional facility, one of whom passed away. Investigations are underway as authorities work together to control the outbreak and address the facility’s health needs.
Outbreak In Alabama Prison
In cooperation with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), the Alabama Department of Corrections is investigating a disease outbreak that has erupted at the Ventress Correctional Facility. Three inmates were hospitalized and confirmed to have Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria infections. Two developed meningitis or an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord membranes, one of whom eventually died and is being subjected to an autopsy.
As a result, the state’s Department of Corrections will provide antibiotics to co-inmates and staff members who had contact with the ill inmates, especially those who shared cigarettes or other personal items with them and those who will present fever or flu-like symptoms. The ADPH has also ordered vaccines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to be administered to those who have yet to be immunized and have had close contact with inmates in recent weeks. The CDC was also requested on-site to provide rapid responses and assistance while the investigation is ongoing.
Streptococcus Pneumoniae Bacteria
Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria causes infections that may range from sinusitis and ear infections, to pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and meningitis. Many people are said to have the bacteria in their nose and throat without being ill, but it can easily be passed from one person to another through direct contact with droplets such as mucus or saliva.
According to the CDC, pneumococcal diseases occur all around the world, which is why unvaccinated travelers may be placed at risk when they are traveling to a country where the vaccine is not routinely administered. Those who are more at risk of contracting the disease are children below 2 years old and older adults above 65 years old. Those who have weakened immune systems, those with asthma or other respiratory conditions, and those who smoke are also more at risk of contracting pneumococcal disease.
Prevent Pneumococcal Diseases
As such, practicing proper hygiene such as frequent and proper hand washing, covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and avoiding close contact with ill persons are important steps in preventing illness contraction. It’s also wise not to unnecessarily touch the eyes, nose, and mouth and only to do so when the hands are clean.
Getting vaccinated with PPSV23 for older adults and those who smoke and with PCV13 for children is also an important step in preventing pneumococcal disease.