Maryland Prisons Suspend Visits After Suspected Drug Illnesses in Pa., Ohio

Maryland's prisons are not allowing any visitors Wednesday after dozens of staff and inmates fell ill in Pennsylvania and Ohio from possible drug exposure.

The state's corrections department said in a release that prison visits were suspended until further notice. Prisons are accepting mail, but staff are not opening or distributing mail and they have been advised to use protective equipment, according to the release.

“We are taking precautions to ensure the safety and security of our employees and inmates,” Stephen T. Moyer, secretary for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said in the release.

In Pennsylvania, 29 employees at 10 prisons required treatment in recent weeks from exposure to a yet-unidentified substance described in some cases as a liquid synthetic drug. The illnesses prompted a statewide lockdown.

Prison guards, nurses and inmates were among the nearly 30 people treated for possible drug exposure inside Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe, Ohio. The incident stared Wednesday morning when an inmate showed signs of a possible drug overdose, patrol spokesman Lt. Robert Sellers said.

As officers and medical responders arrived, 28 people, including 23 guards, four nurses and an inmate, were treated with naloxone, a drug used to combat overdoses caused by opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, Sellers said.

Officials don't believe the incidents in Ohio and Pennsylvania are related. 

There have been no incidents in Maryland, the state's release said.

Maryland officials said they hope to resume visits by the weekend.

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