THURSDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- Three people who received transplant organs in 2012 from the same 24-year-old donor got more than they bargained for: Each developed a severe roundworm infection, U.S. health officials reported Thursday.
The transplant recipients acquired Strongyloides, an infection caused by an intestinal parasite common in the tropics and subtropics known as S. stercoralis. The infection apparently was transmitted from the donated organ to the recipients, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The discovery could lead to new guidelines for organ transplantations, the report suggested. Doctors currently recommend screening recipients for Strongyloides if they come from areas where the parasitic worms are widespread, but this report suggests a need to screen donors as well.
"Donor-derived Strongyloides infection might be more common than previously believed," the CDC report said. "In these investigations, a single donor was the source of infection for three of four organ recipients."
If screening identifies donor infection, preventive treatment of vulnerable recipients can begin, the CDC said in its April 12 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Organ recipients are at high risk of serious infection because of the immune-system-suppressing drugs they take to fight rejection of their new organ.
Among healthy people, the roundworm infection can present no symptoms, but experts believe the immunosuppressive therapy might reactivate chronic infection in the transplanted organs.
The donor in this case died of gunshot wounds. The next day, his heart, kidneys, pancreas and liver were transplanted into four recipients. The donor was born in Puerto Rico and often visited there, but at the time of donation Strongyloides was not suspected. That's probably because most cases in North America are seen in peopl
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