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Hundreds checked for rabies after transplant death

Health agencies in five states are assessing the rabies risk for hundreds of people who may have had close contact with an infected organ donor and four transplant recipients, one of whom died, officials said Saturday.

About 200 medical workers, relatives and others were assessed for potential exposure in Maryland, where the man who received an infected kidney died, state veterinarian Katherine Feldman said. She said fewer than two dozen were urged to get the rabies vaccine as a preventive measure.

In Florida, about 90 people were identified as potentially exposed, and three were offered the rabies vaccine as of Friday, state health department spokeswoman Ashley Carr said.

Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said the only potential exposures there were people who worked with the patient or the transplanted organ. Only the patient is receiving treatment.

Officials in Georgia and North Carolina are also involved in the epidemiological investigation prompted by the man's death from rabies in February, nearly 18 months after he got the kidney from a donor in Pensacola. But officials in those states didn't respond to requests about how many people they're assessing.

Doctors in Florida didn't test the 20-year-old donor for rabies before he died in September 2011. His heart, liver and other kidney went to recipients in Florida, Georgia and Illinois. They started getting the vaccine this month; none has had rabies symptoms.

Hundreds checked for rabies after transplant death 03/16/13 [Last modified: Sunday, March 17, 2013 12:58am]
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