FRIDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Rabies caused the death of an organ transplant recipient in Maryland, and three other patients who received organs from the same donor are getting anti-rabies shots, government health officials announced Friday.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency and Maryland health officials have confirmed that the patient who died in early March contracted rabies from the donated organ. The transplant was done more than a year ago.
The length of time the patient took to develop rabies symptoms was much longer than the typical rabies incubation period of one to three months, but is consistent with previous reports of long incubation periods, officials said in a statement.
Both the organ donor and the recipient had a raccoon-type rabies virus, according to the CDC's preliminary analysis of tissue samples. This type of rabies infects not only raccoons, but also other wild and domestic animals. In the United States, only one other person is reported to have died from raccoon-type rabies virus.
In 2011, the organ donor became ill, was admitted to a hospital in Florida and then died. The donor's organs, including the kidneys, heart and liver, were transplanted into recipients in Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Maryland.
At the time of the donor's death, rabies was not suspected as the cause and testing for rabies was not performed, the CDC said. Rabies was confirmed as the cause of the donor's death only after the investigation into the Maryland patient's death began.
The donor moved to Florida from North Carolina shortly before becoming ill. Officials are investigating how the donor may have been infected with rabies.
The three other people who received organs from the donor are being evaluated by doctors and are receiving anti-rabies shots. The CDC is working with health officials and health care facilities in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, M
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