A Maryland man who recently died of rabies contracted the disease from an organ transplant more than a year ago, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
According to the Washington Post, health officials have confirmed that the man, whose identity was kept anonymous, died in early March after he contracted rabies from a kidney he received in 2011.
“In early March, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene initiated an investigation after the organ recipient died, which led to the rabies diagnosis,” a statement from the CDC said. “The investigation revealed that the organ recipient had no reported animal exposures, the usual source of rabies transmission to humans, and identified the possibility of transplant-related transmission of rabies, which is extremely rare.”
The CDC added that the donor was a man from Florida who died from swelling of the brain, also known as encephalitis.
Fox News reports that three people in other states received organs from the same donor, but their conditions were not immediately known.
It’s the first death from rabies in Maryland in 40 years and it has many concerned.
“How the donor may have gotten rabies is currently under investigation,” a spokesman for the CDC said.
As bizarre as it seems, the Maryland man’s death is not the first reported cases of rabies transmission through solid organ transplantation.
In 2004, four people in Texas died from the infection after receiving organs from a single donor infected with the disease.
The donor, an Arkansas resident, was symptom free and “[h]ad undergone routine donor eligibility screening and testing”, said the CDC, but “rabies testing is not part of the routine screening process”, they added.
There have been at least eight rabies cases around the world contracted through cornea transplants.
According to Wikipedia, rabies is a viral disease which infects the central nervous system and can spread to the brain, causing death within just a few days.
The most rabid animals in the United States include raccoons skunks, foxes, and bats. More information about the disease is available at the CDC’s website.