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Organ Transplant Recipient Receiving Anti-Rabies
Shots After CDC Confirms Rabies Death in Donor

State and local health departments identifying close
contact medical staff

SPRINGFIELD – The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) announced today laboratory testing
confirmed a person who died and donated organs in
2011 and one of the organ recipients recently died of
rabies.  Three other people received organs from the
same donor, including one recipient in northeastern
Illinois.  The recipient has no symptoms of rabies,
but has started anti-rabies shots as a precaution.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH),
along with local health departments, is working to
identify any hospital personnel who may need
post-exposure prophylaxis, in consultation with CDC.

“There is no ongoing threat of rabies to the public
associated with this situation,” said Illinois
Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar
Hasbrouck.  “The Illinois Department of Public Health
will continue to work with the CDC and local health
departments to monitor the health of the Illinois
recipient and determine the need for rabies treatment
in hospital personnel.”

Transmission of rabies from person to person is
highly unlikely and only occurs when a person has
contact through their eyes, nose, mouth or a break in
the skin with saliva, tears or neural tissue (nervous
system) of a person infected with rabies.

Transmission of disease via organ transplantation is
very rare.  The vast majority of
transplant-transmitted infections happen within three
months of transplantation.  People who have had a
recent organ transplantation and are concerned about
infection should speak with their health care

All potential organ donors in the United States are
screened and tested to identify if the donor might
present an infectious risk.  Organ procurement
organizations are responsible for evaluating the
suitability of each organ donor.  The benefits from
transplanted organs generally outweigh the risk for
transmission of infectious diseases from screened

Rabies is a preventable viral disease most often
transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.  The
rabies virus infects the central nervous system,
ultimately causing disease in the brain if not given
anti-rabies shots promptly.


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