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Ohio Inmate Becomes First in the State Diagnosed With This Illness

Solar array panels atop a prison building at Ross Correctional Institution on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, in Chillicothe, Ohio. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says the panels on eight buildings will save about $245,000 in energy costs annually. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins) AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins

An Ohio prison inmate diagnosed with leprosy is the first such case in the entire history of the state, corrections officials said Thursday.

Officials said the inmate is a native of Micronesia in the south Pacific Ocean and likely contracted the disease there, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. It can take up to 20 years after infection for a person to show any of the symptoms.

The Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe, Ohio. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

The inmate, whose name officials have not released, was being held at the correctional institution in Chillicothe and has been admitted to Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus. Department of Rehabilitation and Correction managing director Stuart Hudson said there's no concern of the disease spreading, especially considering that 95 percent of humans have a natural immunity to leprosy.

Hudson said other inmates who regularly came within 3 feet of the ill prisoner are being tested. The disease spreads through coughing, sneezing or mucus. Leprosy can easily be treated with antibiotics, the Ohio Department of Health notes on its website.

There are about 15 million cases of leprosy worldwide. Areas where the disease is most common include Southeast Asia and India (where inmate's country of origin is located), tropical Africa, and some parts of Latin America.

The Ohio Department of Health says infectiousness is usually lost within a day of a patient beginning multi-drug therapy.

(H/T: Cleveland Plain Dealer)

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