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Ohio Woman With MS Dies From Sunbathing

June 28, 2005

WATERVILLE, Ohio (AP) _ A woman with multiple sclerosis who sunbathed several hours in 95-degree heat at her nursing home in northwestern Ohio apparently died of a fever, which measured 109 degrees, the coroner’s office said Monday.

Patricia Matney, 49, could walk only with assistance because of the disease and was on a blanket on a patio at the facility, said Steve Kahle, a Lucas County coroner’s investigator.

Staff members at the Heartland of Browning nursing home periodically checked on her before she was found unconscious Sunday afternoon. Matney regularly spent time outdoors at the facility, said Julie Beckert, communications director for owner HCR Manor Care.

People with multiple sclerosis are particularly susceptible to heat because slight body temperature changes can aggravate symptoms of the nervous system disease, such as speech defects and loss of muscle coordination and eyesight, said Kottil Rammohan, an associate professor of neurology at Ohio State University.

Rammohan said he warns patients not to spend much time in saunas or whirlpools and advises them never to sunbathe alone.

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