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Three transplant recipients die from rabies transmitted by infected donor.

Three recipients of organs donated by an Arkansas man who died from rabies in May also died of rabies, while the 4th died of complications during the surgery, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the case is the first ever incident of rabies transmission among more than 300,000 vascular organ transplants performed in the US in the past 20 years. The incidence of rabies in humans is extremely rare, about 30 in the last 10 years, UNOS reported.

The lungs, kidneys and liver of the donor were donated to 4 patients in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama. Mitchell Cohen, MD, director of the CDC coordinating center for infectious diseases, said the donor had shown no symptoms of rabies before his death from a brain hemorrhage, the Associated Press reported.

The CDC is working with health officials in the 4 states in an attempt to find out if other people who had contact with the organ recipients or the donor need to be treated for rabies. Testing for rabies is not routinely done on US organ donors, but donors are regularly tested for other diseases, including hepatitis B and C, HIV and syphilis. Rabies has never been found in donated blood.

On average, only 1 or 2 people die in the US from rabies annually, according to the CDC. There were no human cases reported in 2001, the last year for which data is available.
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Publication:Transplant News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 30, 2004
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