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Lancaster County Prison to conduct thorough sanitation after positive Legionnaires' Disease sample found

On Aug. 21, one test came back positive with a trace amount of Legionella from a sink within the cell where an infected inmate was housed.
Credit: WPMT

LANCASTER, Pa. — Lancaster County Prison announced Tuesday that it will be conducting a sanitization procedure after an exposure to Legionnaires' Disease. 

According to officials, on Friday, Aug. 11, the Lancaster County Prison (LCP) temporarily housed an inmate who had come from a State Correctional Institution (SCI). After returning back to the SCI, the inmate reportedly tested positive for Legionnaires' Disease. 

The individual was an inmate at a SCI before being transported to LCP for approximately 20 days in mid-July. The inmate returned to SCI on July 26 and was tested on Aug. 1 for Legionnaires' Disease. 

The test returned positive on Aug. 9. 

Upon notification by the state, LCP staff notified PrimeCare, the onside medical provider at the facility. Testing was then ordered for multiple sites within the prison. 

The testing reportedly included both common water sources and areas where the inmate in question had direct contact. 

On Aug. 21, one test came back positive with a trace amount of Legionella from a sink within the cell where the inmate was housed. 

On Wednesday, Aug. 23, General Services is expected to sanitize the water system through a Hyper Chlorination process. The disinfection procedure will be applied to all cells within the Medical Housing Unit (MHU). Additionally, a chemical pump will inject chlorinated water throughout the system, disinfecting and killing off any bacteria lying within. 

Chlorination levels of the water must be increased to 50 parts per million to ensure proper sanitization and must sit in the system for up to three hours. Once the system has had time to soak, the chlorinated water will be flushed from the system. 

Testing will then be conducted to ensure the chlorinated solution is removed and returns to allowable limits before being turned back into service. 

Due to the extremely high levels of chlorination, inmates and staff have been instructed to not utilize the water in the MHU during this process. Inmates currently located in the MHU will be moved to an alternate housing unit where they will have the same accommodations. 

As an added precautionary measure, LCP says officials have installed 0.2-micron point-of-use filters and sanitized the ice machines for the entire facility. Additionally, out of an abundance of caution, LCP also plans to superheat the hot water heaters. 

“We have a professional team that is working on this issue. Just as we successfully navigated the difficulties of COVID, I am confident that our staff and General Services team will be able to handle this efficiently and effectively” Lancaster County Prison Warden Cheryl Steberger said.

“This issue highlights the continued challenges we face with the existing facility, some parts of which were constructed in the 1850s, and the importance of the steps we are taking to construct a new, modern facility," she continued. 

No other inmates or staff have demonstrated symptoms consistent with Legionnaires’ Disease, according to officials. Nor has anyone experienced symptoms over the course of the three weeks since the inmate left LCP. The inmate originally diagnosed with it has reportedly made a full recovery. 

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