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Medical Mystery: What Sent a Pregnant Prison Worker to the Hospital?

Posted on by Julie Tisdale-Pardi, MA

Jasmine worked at a prison in central California that provided long-term housing and services for minimum, medium, and maximum custody inmates. She was 34 years old and had worked at the prison for six years.  Jasmine was a correctional officer, and her job duties included security checks, patrolling the facility, and occasionally grid searches and digging for contraband in the soil. When she was in the third trimester of her pregnancy, Jasmine started working in the control booth where she monitored inmate movement. Jasmine continued to intermittently perform perimeter checks around the grounds where it was not uncommon to encounter mice. During a shift in the control booth, the air conditioner stopped working. Jasmine changed the filter, and when that didn’t help, she propped the door open for ventilation. During the process, she cut her finger on the metal air conditioner.

Approximately one week later, Jasmine started feeling sick with flu like symptoms. She thought back to what she had eaten for her last few meals remembering a turkey sandwich for lunch, fried eggs for breakfast and a hamburger for dinner the night before. She also remembered that a co-worker had been diagnosed with influenza the week before. When Jasmine’s symptoms continued to get worse with fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches and joint pain she grew more concerned. After a few days she couldn’t get out of bed to go to work. Jasmine’s husband took her to the hospital where she was admitted. What is making Jasmine sick?

Check back on Friday for the next installment of Workplace Medical Mysteries to learn what is ailing Jasmine. Think you know? Tell us what you think it is in the comments section below.

Julie Tisdale-Pardi, MA, is the Coordinator of the NIOSH Science Blog.

This blog is part of the NIOSH Workplace Medical Mystery Series. The names and certain personal details of the characters are fictitious and do not represent an actual person or persons.

Posted on by Julie Tisdale-Pardi, MA

20 comments on “Medical Mystery: What Sent a Pregnant Prison Worker to the Hospital?”

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    Hantavirus possibility should be considered – Central California, rural location, mice present. Contact State Health Department for assistance.

    Legionnaires’ disease. Signs and symptoms match. Legionella bacteria often found in large HVAC symptoms. Point of entry through the cut in unsanitary, rarely cleaned system. Properly cleaning these systems requires evacuation of the facility which is highly unlikely to have occurred in a prison.

    Legionnaires’ disease. Signs and symptoms match. Legionella bacteria is commonly found in large HVAC systems which, in a prison, are unlikely to undergo regular sanitation and cleaning.

    My first thought was the cut allowed entry of numerous possibilities through the blood. Then, also breathing particles from the ventillation system, plus the cut, even if washed soon afterward would have allowed the particles directly into her blood. I hope that whatever is causing her symptoms are now discovered, and she is out of danger…also the baby is safe.

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