Dozens poisoned at Ohio prison after exposure to drug believed to be fentanyl

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio -- More than two dozen people were sickened at an Ohio state prison after being exposed to a drug believed by hospital officials to be the powerful opioid, fentanyl.

Authorities responded to the Ross Correctional Institution south of Columbus after an inmate showed signs of a drug overdose just after 9 a.m., according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Troopers said the inmate, 23 corrections officers and four prison nurses who were exposed to the drug were hospitalized and treated with Narcan. One other inmate was treated at the scene.

Adena Regional Medical Center said it received 24 patients. Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Kirk Tucker said the inmate suspected of overdosing was unconscious and not breathing when he arrived at the hospital. He said prison staff members showed symptoms including fatigue, nausea, lightheadedness and numbness.

Hospital officials said late Wednesday that the inmate remained hospitalized in stable condition and a prison staff member was under observation, while all other patients were treated and released.

“The people that were sick were essentially the ones that responded to that inmate's bedside, the people that were closest to the entrance to that room and some of the folks that were in and out of the squad that transported the inmate,” Tucker said.

OSHP said other inmates were moved from the contaminated cell-block and a hazmat team was brought in to clean and decontaminate the area.

Troopers said testing is being done to positively identify the drug, and the incident remains under investigation.

Continuing coverage here.