PENDLETON, Ind. — The Indiana Department of Correction announced that an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has been confirmed at the Pendleton Correctional Facility.
Three cases were confirmed. Two cases originally listed as probable returned a negative test on Thursday but are not being listed as negative for Legionnaires’ disease due to their clinically compatible symptoms and possible exposure to the bacteria.
Legionnaires’ disease is a very serious type of pneumonia caused by bacteria called Legionella. Outbreaks are often associated with large or complex water systems, such as showers, fountains and hot tubs.
“IDOC and the Indiana Department of Health are working to determine the source, and in the meantime have turned off the hot water and communicated with offenders and staff about the outbreak,” said Annie Goeller, the Chief Communications Officer for the Indiana Department of Correction, in a news advisory. “Appropriate remediation will take place based on the results of testing that is underway. Protecting the incarcerated population and staff at the facility is the top priority.”
All five incarcerated individuals are receiving treatment and are hospitalized. Others who show symptoms will be tested and treated in the same way as needed.
Legionnaires’ disease is serious, with one in 10 people who get the disease dying from infection. It can be treated with antibiotics and can make a full recovery, especially if the individual is receiving care in a hospital.
“IDOC will take any necessary steps to protect the incarcerated population and staff from further exposure,” Goeller said. “Toilets and drinking water are not affected since the bacteria is spread through water droplets that are inhaled.”
IDOC said testing continues within the facility to determine the source of the bacteria and appropriate remediation will be based upon those results.