Maryland Rabies Death Linked to Transplant

CDC and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene confirmed that the transplant recipient and the donor had the same type of virus, a raccoon type.

A rare case of rabies transmission from an organ transplant has been confirmed by CDC and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene after the transplant recipient died recently. The transplanted organ came from someone who died in 2011 at a medical facility in Florida; the recipient who died in Maryland received the transplant more than a year ago, CDC said this is much longer than the normal rabies incubation period of one to three months "but is consistent with prior case reports of long incubation periods."

The 2013 death in Maryland was only the second reported human death in the United States from a raccoon-type rabies virus, CDC reported.Three other people also received organs from the same donor, and they are now receiving anti-rabies shots, according to CDC’s announcement, which says the federal agency is working with public health officials and health care facilities in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, and North Carolina to identify people who were in close contact with the initial donor or the four organ recipients and may need treatment.

"At the time of the donor's death, rabies was not suspected as the cause and testing for rabies was not performed. Rabies was only recently confirmed as the cause of death after the current investigation began in Maryland," it states.

Only one other case of a human death from a raccoon rabies virus has been reported in the United States, according to CDC.

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