Update provided regarding outbreak at Ventress Correctional Facility


CONTACT: Burnestine Taylor, M.D.
(334) 206-5100
CONTACT: Cindy Lesinger
(334) 206-5023

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) continues to collaborate with the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) regarding an outbreak of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) among inmates at Ventress Correctional Facility in Barbour County. There are no new laboratory-confirmed cases of IPD at this time, and systems are being set up to monitor for signs and symptoms of IPD among inmates and facility personnel. The bacteria that cause IPD are known as Streptococcus pneumoniae.

On October 2, 2018, ADPH sent an alert to healthcare providers describing signs and symptoms of IPD, listing recommended diagnostic testing for suspect cases of IPD, and providing contact information for reporting potential IPD cases to ADPH (1-800-469-4599). This alert has been distributed to counties where the majority of Ventress Correctional Facility personnel reside. These include Barbour, Dale, Houston and Pike counties.

Those who have shared close (e.g., sharing respiratory secretions) or prolonged contact (e.g., share living quarters) with inmates or personnel from Ventress Correctional Facility should seek care if they start having signs or symptoms of IPD. These include fever, chills, stiff neck, headache, sensitivity to light, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or other severe respiratory symptoms.

Outside visitors to Ventress are at low risk of being exposed to the strain of S. pneumoniae causing the outbreak since outside visits to this facility do not lead to close or prolonged contact. Community residents with minimal or no contact with Ventress facility personnel or inmates are also at low risk of being exposed.

Based on laboratory testing, it is believed this outbreak is caused by a strain of S. pneumoniae that the PPV23 vaccine provides protection against. Taking the recommended antibiotics and vaccination will offer protection to those at risk during the outbreak, but even with these measures it is possible that infection may still occur.

ADPH has created a webpage to provide updates regarding this outbreak investigation and to share resources related to testing, diagnosis, and treatment of IPD. This website can be accessed at alabamapublichealth.gov/bcd/assets/ipdoutbreak_ventress.pdf.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends those who have a weak immune system, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), kidney disease, a removed spleen, heart disease, chronic lung disease, chronic alcoholism, or chronic liver disease should speak to their healthcare provider about receiving pneumococcal vaccines. More information on recommended adult vaccines can be found here:

ADPH and ADOC are committed to minimizing the impact of IPD among Ventress Correctional Facility inmates, personnel and the surrounding communities.