Pennsylvania prisons on lockdown after staffers sickened by unknown substance

Pennsylvania's state prisons are on lockdown after staff members required treatment in recent weeks from exposure to a yet-unidentified substance described as a liquid synthetic drug.

The Department of Corrections announced the step Wednesday, following the news that guards and nurses were treated for possible drug exposure inside an Ohio prison.

The department didn't say how long the lockdown will last.

In the meantime, it's suspending prison visits, closing mailrooms to non-legal mail and requiring all employees to use gloves and other personal protective equipment.

Pennsylvania previously reported five separate cases between Aug. 6 and Aug. 13 in which 18 employees in three western Pennsylvania prisons showed symptoms that required medical treatment.

Prison staff is to use extra caution with parole violators and newly arrived inmates.

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