UK & World News
Rabies Organ Donor Death Sparks Virus Fears
US officials are trying to identify people in at least five states who had close contact with an organ donor who died of rabies - or the four recipients.
Public and military officials are also trying to track down all those who have come into contact with the transplant patients because they might need treatment too.
The alert follows the death of one of the recipients - a patient in Maryland who received a kidney over a year ago - who died of the virus in March, some 18 months after the operation.
Doctors did not test the donor for rabies before offering his kidneys, heart and liver to people in Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Maryland.
Subsequent tests on the deceased donor's tissue and the patient's tissue confirmed that both had a type of rabies usually linked to raccoons.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said such cases are extremely rare.
"In the United States, only one other person is reported to have died from a raccoon-type rabies virus," the CDC said in a statement, which did not identify the sex of the donor or recipient, or the organ that was infected.
It said that despite this case, the benefits of organ transplantation "generally outweigh the risks".
"All potential organ donors in the United States are screened and tested to identify if the donor might present an infectious risk," it said, noting that tests are typically run for HIV and hepatitis.
"If rabies is not clinically suspected, laboratory testing for rabies is not routinely performed, as it is difficult for doctors to confirm results in the short window of time they have to keep the organs viable for the recipient."
The other three transplant patients have been tracked down and are being treated with anti-rabies shots.
Health officials said that the organ donor - a 20-year-old Air Force recruit from North Carolina - who died of rabies had symptoms of the disease but was not tested before his organs were transplanted.
He was in the Air Force for about 17 weeks and was training to become an aviation mechanic in Pensacola, Florida, when he became sick. He died in 2011.
There are typically one to three cases of human rabies diagnosed yearly in the US.
what do you think?
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But he died of rabies!!!!
Better horsemeat in your burger than rabies in your kidney