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Posted: October 17, 2014

Leprosy diagnosed in Ohio prison inmate

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Compiled from web and wire reports

COLUMBUS, Ohio —

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An Ohio prison inmate has been diagnosed with leprosy, but health officials aren't concerned the infection will spread.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says the inmate, whose name wasn't released, was diagnosed with the chronic bacterial infection on Tuesday at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution. He's now being treated at the Ohio State University hospital.

The inmate is from Micronesia, and officials believe he contracted the infection there. It can take up to 20 years for signs of the disease to appear.

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The prison system's Stuart Hudson says he's not concerned that the inmate will spread the disease to other prisoners or staff, noting that 95 percent of humans have a natural immunity.

However, the prison system is working to identify and test other inmates who have been around him.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, Leprosy, also known as Hansen's Disease, can cause severe skin sores and weaken or paralyze muscles in the hands and feet. The Cleveland Plan Dealer reports the disease is spread through coughing, sneezing, or mucus, though it's not highly contagious and is easily treated with antibiotics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reprots that 95 percent of all adults have a natural immunity to the disease, but as many as 2 million people around the world are permanently disabled from it.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report

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