A Maryland transplant recipient has died of rabies after receiving an infected organ from a donor, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Friday.
The CDC said that three other patients also received organs from the rabies-infected donor and were now receiving rabies shots.
Transmission of rabies through donated organs is extremely rare.
"The organ transplant occurred more than a year before the recipient developed symptoms and died of rabies," read a CDC press statement. "This period is much longer than the typical rabies incubation period of one to three months, but is consistent with prior case reports of long incubation periods."
Laboratory analysis revealed that both the donor and the deceased recipient died of raccoon-type rabies virus. The organ recipient had not been exposed to animals prior to death, according to the agency.
The organ donor had become ill and died in a Florida medical facility in 2011. The patient's kidneys, heart and liver were recovered and sent to recipients in Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Maryland. The donor was never tested for rabies, since medical personnel did not suspect it was the cause of death.