Inmate at state's Franklin Medical Center in Columbus diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease

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A senior inmate at the state’s Franklin Medical Center in Columbus was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease this past weekend, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

The 69-year-old man, who has multiple chronic diseases, was staying in the Zone B minimum security prison facility at the center in the 1800 block of Harmon Avenue on the West Side. He had experienced nausea and vomiting for two days when he was taken Saturday to the Wexner Medical Center at the Ohio State University, said JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the state rehabilitation and correction department.

The man was diagnosed at the hospital with Legionnaires’ disease, but his condition is not considered to be life threatening, Smith said.

Meanwhile, the Zone B area — where 364 inmates are housed — is being inspected to determine the potential source of the problem, said Kevin Runyon, medical operations director for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

An inoperable shower, near where the 69-year-old man was staying, is suspected, Runyon said.  The whole shower and water system will be flushed and hyper-chlorinated, he said.

Legionella bacteria is naturally found in water but can become a health concern when it spreads into a building’s water systems, showers and faucets. People with weakened immune systems can become vulnerable to the bacteria and develop Legionnaires’ disease, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2017, a total of four inmates were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease over two occasions at the Franklin Medical Center.

The Mount Carmel Grove City hospital – a $361 million facility which opened April 28 — recently experienced an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease with at least 16 confirmed cases. One of the diagnosed patients, Deanna “Dee” Rezes, 75, of Grove City, died on June 2.

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