MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – A 52-year-old official at Earnest C. Brooks Regional Correctional Facility has died of bacterial meningitis, and a prisoner has also contracted a disease, a state official said.
The official was a 20-year-old detention center worker, Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections, said Wednesday, March 27.
The prisoner got sick last week and is now recovering at a prison hospital in Jackson.
Gautz said the officer's illness started with streptococci and developed into meningitis. He last worked on March 1
Tests are carried out to see if the officer and the inmate had the same signs of meningitis.
The prison administrators held a meeting of the Town Hall with Brooks employees on Wednesday. The intention was to educate the staff. A medical officer from MDOC and an epidemiologist from the State of Health and Human Services answered questions.
The germs that cause bacterial meningitis are contagious. But Gautz said that the disease in which the officer was involved usually only developed into meningitis with a weakened immune system.
He said certain areas of the prison had been cleaned with bleach, and both employees and prisoners would receive medical masks on request. But he said both efforts were more of an attempt to lower anxiety than anything else.
Neither the officer nor the prisoner was in the facility for several days, so the danger of infection is not likely.
Gautz said the deceased officer was popular and counselor counselors were provided to employees.
"You have lost a very respected and popular employee," he said.