Report: Maryland rabies victim got virus through organ transplant

Update – Friday – 3/15/2013, 9:23 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON – Citing anonymous sources, The Washington Post reports the Maryland victim who died of rabies was a man infected with the virus through a kidney transplant.

The Post says the man died at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in D.C. and received the kidney from a Florida donor during an operation at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in 2011.

Three other people also received organs from the same donor. Health officials say they are being evaluated and receiving anti-rabies shots.


Earlier – Wednesday – 3/13/2013, 5:56 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON – The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says an adult has died of rabies in the state’s first case of human rabies since 1976.

The victim’s name is not being released to protect the privacy of the family, and there is no further information on how the individual was exposed to the rabies virus as of yet.

The DHMH says that human exposure to rabies usually comes from a bite of an infected animal and not from contact with another person. However, the department, clinicians and public health partners are accessing the risk of those who had direct contact with the individual who died from the virus.

Rabies is preventable in humans with the administration of a rabies vaccine and rabies immune globulin. These measures are only recommended for people who have been exposed to specific fluids from the nervous system of an infected person.

The U.S. has averaged fewer than five human rabies cases each year over the last 10 years. In 2012, Maryland detected 320 animals with rabies in the state.

A woman was attacked last week by a rabid raccoon while jogging along the C&O Canal Towpath in Maryland, NBC 4 reports .

The raccoon attacked the woman’s leg, tripped her and bit her.

“I fall and the raccoon and I are wrestling on the ground for a little bit,” the woman recounted in an interview with NBC 4. “I came to learn later that it did actually bite me.”

After the attack, the victim received a series of injections, including rabies and tetanus. In addition, she is also taking antibiotics.

“In many ways, I would say the medical treatment is actually worse than the bite,” she told NBC 4.

The raccoon ran into the nearby river and has not been seen since the attack. Officials from the C&O National Park notified community members and urged them to be on the lookout for the raccoon and other sick animals in the area.

The C&O Canal Towpath is a popular hiking, running and cycling trail that starts in Georgetown and ends in Cumberland, Md.

See the full interview with NBC 4 here:

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