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Inmates diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease at prison already beset by sex abuse allegations

An aerial view of the sprawling Coleman complex near Wildwood, Fla.

JANUARY 30, 2020 

BY Carli Teproff - Miami Herald

Correctional Complex, already beset by allegations of pervasive sexual abuse by guards on inmates, has another problem — inmates contracting Legionnaires’ disease.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for Coleman confirmed, after several days of ignoring inquiries, that “some inmates at Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Coleman’s minimum security satellite camp were diagnosed with legionella pneumonia.”

Legionnaires disease’, the more common name, is a type of pneumonia (or lung infection) caused by breathing in water that contains legionella bacteria. The disease can cause flu-like symptoms, including coughing, aching muscles and headaches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Inmates diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease at prison already beset by sex abuse allegations

“FCI Coleman is working closely with officials from the Florida Department of Health to investigate the source of this matter and take necessary precautionary measures,” the Coleman spokesman said in a statement, adding that there are currently 409 inmates housed in the camp. “In conducting this investigation, the health and safety of staff, inmates, and the public are the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) highest priority.”

The work camp is part of a much larger complex housing thousands of inmates, mostly men.

While Coleman won’t address specific questions, including how many inmates, corrections officers or civilians have contracted the disease, inmates and family members of inmates describe a dire situation.

Paul Forkner, whose daughter is incarcerated at the work camp, said she first told him about an outbreak on Jan. 23.

“Apparently a large number of women here have tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease,” she wrote her father. “Today they had people here testing water, looking at mold on showers and supposedly Monday they are looking at air conditioning vents. I wish you could see this place. Everything is exposed. Pipes, vents, all of it. In the showers there are huge pieces of ceiling missing where all you see is the crap pipes.”