Pennsylvania prisons on lockdown as mystery illnesses probed

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s state prisons are on lockdown after employees at 10 prisons in recent weeks required treatment from exposure to a yet-unidentified substance described in some cases as a liquid synthetic drug.

The Department of Corrections announced the step today, the same day two guards at Somerset state prison and several guards and medical staff at Albion state prison reporting feeling ill.

Pennsylvania is now reporting 29 employees getting sickened starting Aug. 6 in 10 western and central prisons. Symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea and skin tingling.

The department says it doesn’t know how long the lockdown will last.

In the meantime, it’s suspending prison visits, closing mailrooms to nonlegal mail, using extra caution with newly arrived inmates and requiring all employees to use gloves and other protective equipment.

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