Pennsylvania state prisons locked down after ‘unknown substance’ sick of employees

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, placed in prison on the lock of the Wednesday after employees at a fourth prison requires treatment in the past few weeks of exposure to a still unknown substance is described as a liquid synthetic drug.

(Hudson Companies)

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections announced Wednesday that all state correctional institutions were on the “immediate ” lockdown” after several employees were reportedly exposed to an “unknown substance.”

Department Secretary John Wetzel said in a statement that the prison is in lockdown mode for an indefinite period of time, and that all corrections mailrooms would be closed to nonlegal mail until further notice. The news came after 29 employees, 10 prisons need treatment in the last weeks of exposure to a still unknown substance which has been described as a liquid synthetic drug.

“The safety of our employees is my Number 1 of the care,” Wetzel said. “We will do what is necessary in order to ensure the safety of our employees.”

All the prison is under immediate lockdown. More info:

— PA Department of Corrections (@CorrectionsPA) August 29, 2018

The announcement came a few hours after 28 guards, prisoners and nurses at the Ross Correctional Initiation in Ohio were also affected by ” dust exposure.”

The incident began around 9 p.m. when an inmate showed signs of a possible drug overdose, said patrol spokesman Lt. Robert Sellers. Those affected were treated through the administration of naloxone, a drug used to combat overdoses caused by opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, Sellers said.

Hospital officials also said that the patient’s symptoms were consistent with exposure to fentanyl.


While the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections gave no further details about the mystery of the substance, the statement by the department said that it “not only in its fight against illegal substances and employee/inmate illness,” and he cited the Ohio cases.

Wetzel also said that the state Opioid Command Center joined the efforts “to get to the bottom of this problem now.”

Local media reported a synthetic cannabinoid-like substance in question.

BREAKING news: State police identified one of the “unknown substances” sickening employees of the prison as a synthetic cannabinoid, a DOC spokesman said.

— Dillon Richards (@thedillonjames) August 29, 2018

It was not immediately known if the risks in the two states were related.

The employees are required to wear gloves and other protective equipment, and the prisoner visits are suspended.

Fox News’ Kathleen Joyce and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Paulina Dedaj is a writer/ reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @PaulinaDedaj.

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