This really bites!

  1. Patients Die After Getting Rabies-Infected Organs

    Thu Jul 1, 4:26 PM ET Add Health - Reuters to My Yahoo!


    By Paul Simao

    ATLANTA (Reuters) - Three U.S. transplant patients died after receiving organs from a donor who was infected with rabies, the first time the disease has been spread via transplanted organs, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

    The victims received organs from an Arkansas man on May 4, 2004, in separate operations at hospitals in Texas and Oklahoma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites), the federal agency responsible for tracking health threats.

    A fourth person who received two lungs from the same donor died during the transplant operation in Alabama.

    U.S. officials said the infections went undetected because the donor had shown no signs of rabies at the time of his death from a brain hemorrhage in Texas. U.S. hospitals also do not routinely screen for rabies prior to organ transplants.

    The CDC said it was working with health officials in the four states to determine whether family members, healthcare workers and other potential contacts of the victims required rabies treatment.

    Dr. Mitch Cohen, a CDC infectious diseases expert, described the outbreak as "scary" and said it was unclear how many people might have been exposed as a result of the infections.

    But he added that there was no reason to suspend organ transplants in the United States.

    "This is extremely rare, so the benefits of receiving organ transplantation far outweigh the risks of any infectious disease acquired through transplantation," Cohen said during a hastily arranged conference call.

    Rabies is a rare but virulent and incurable disease usually transmitted through an animal bite or contact with the secretions of infected animals with open wounds. Only a handful of cases are reported in the United States in a typical year.

    Early treatment consists of a shot of immune plasma followed by five jabs of vaccine over a 28-day period.

    Although rabies had not been known to spread through organ transplants, it has been transmitted to a handful of people during cornea transplant operations.
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   kids
    That is freaky. Human rabies is incredibly rare in the US.
  4. by   PennyLane
    Scary and sad. I feel bad for their families.
  5. by   renerian
    Shamrock that is very sad and wow I have never read a similar article.

    renerian
  6. by   gwenith
    Sad and somehow some people are just not meant to get a break.
  7. by   Blackcat99
    That's very sad!
  8. by   susanna
    Sad and unheard of before. I wonder how they test for rabies...
  9. by   kids
    Quote from susanna
    Sad and unheard of before. I wonder how they test for rabies...
    I would think there has to be blood test but I am not sure.

    An animals that bites is usually quarantined for 10-14 days to watch for symptoms. If that is not possible they do a post mortum exam of the brain.
  10. by   jnette
    Tragic, indeed.

    Would the donor not have shown any previous signs of infection or illness? Nothing on his records showing he had been bitten ?

    Very, very sad.
  11. by   bluesky
    God, I can't imagine the heartbreak of those families... the elation of getting the organ and then THIS. Sometimes the suffering of the world is just too much, you know?

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