Testing has revealed that six men incarcerated at Nebraska’s Lincoln Correctional Center (LCC) became infected with salmonella, on or around November 22, 2019. Others also became sick around the same time period with similar symptoms but were not tested.
All are recovering from their symptoms.
Dr. Harbans Deol, medical director at the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) said it is likely that all of the individuals consumed something that caused them to become sick. Two individuals who were ill were transferred to a hospital outside the prison for treatment.
“Salmonella is one of those medical conditions that affect people in a multitude of ways,” explained Dr. Deol. “Some individuals will have no symptoms at all or will only have a mild reaction. However, the bacterial infection can be more severe in those who already have compromised immune systems.”
Dr. Deol said the two men who went to the hospital fell into the latter category. Only one of them was actually admitted to the hospital. NDCS has been working with the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services since the illness first became apparent.
“We may never be able to pinpoint the exact source of the salmonella,” said Director Scott R. Frakes. “Whatever food was consumed is long gone.”
Director Frakes went on to say that the illness only impacted those living at LCC and the majority of patients were from one particular housing unit.
“Despite the fact that foodservice operations are shared between LCC and the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center (DEC), no one on the DEC side became ill. That indicates to us it was not a food item that was served to everyone. Rather, it seems this was an isolated food item, possibly hidden away by some individuals, which was not properly stored and then was eaten.”
No staff members from either facility have reported any illnesses. The most recent person to exhibit symptoms was on December 6.
“Salmonella can incubate for a period of time and then the person becomes ill,” said Dr. Deol. “For that reason, we will keep an eye out for any new cases, but at this point, I believe this exposure is finished.”
As soon as the first few people became ill, the kitchen, serving and dining areas at LCC/DEC were completely disinfected. “When you serve meals to as many people as we do, proper food handling is of the utmost importance,” noted LCC/DEC Warden Taggart Boyd. “This recent situation presents an opportunity to reinforce training and proper procedures.”
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