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Seven Organ Recipients Die After Donor Exposed to Virus

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus may have been transmitted by donor infected by pet hamster

WEDNESDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- Seven of eight people who received donated transplanted organs died of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) transmitted through organ donation after one donor was exposed to the virus by an infected hamster, according to a report in the May 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Staci A. Fischer, M.D., of Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, and colleagues studied viral cultures, electron microscopy and other test results involving two organ donors and eight recipients after two sets of organ recipients showed infection symptoms in 2003 and 2005.

The organ recipients all tested positive for LCMV, the researchers found. Each group was infected by a unique LCMV strain. Although LCMV was not found in the two organ donors, the researchers discovered that one donor had been exposed to a pet hamster infected with the same viral LCMV strain found in the organ recipients. Seven of the eight organ transplant recipients died within nine to 76 days of transplant surgery and one survived.

"Clinicians must recognize that the presence of a unusual constellation of symptoms…should raise the possibility of donor-transmitted infection," the authors write.

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