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Reuters Health Information (2005-06-02): LCMV transmitted through organ donation in US

Public Health

LCMV transmitted through organ donation in US

Last Updated: 2005-06-02 16:31:07 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Four transplant recipients in the US became infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) after receiving organs from a single donor infected with the virus, according to a report in the June 3rd issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

LCMV is a rodent-borne virus that seldom causes problems for healthy individuals, but in immunocompromised patients, such as transplant recipients, infection can be serious and even fatal.

There are no effective pre-transplant tests for screening organ or tissue donors for LCMV infection. Still, the risk of acquiring an unknown LCMV infection through transplantation is very remote and is greatly outweighed by the benefits of organ transplantation, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note.

The current report involves a woman from Rhode Island who died from stroke complications in early April. Aside from hypertension, she had an unremarkable medical history and there was no evidence of infection at the time of her death.

Organs from the woman were transplanted into four recipients who soon showed abnormalities of liver function and blood coagulation, the report indicates. The cause of the illness was unclear and, ultimately, three of the patients died.

The link with a common donor led investigators to consider an infectious etiology for the illnesses. Analysis of tissue from the donor and recipients identified LCMV infection as the cause of disease. Further testing suggested that the donor had acquired the virus from a pet hamster.

"Healthcare providers should be aware that LCMV can be transmitted through organ transplantation," the CDC notes. "Any unexpected infectious syndromes in recipients after solid organ or tissue transplantation should trigger concern about the possibility of transplant-associated transmission of an infectious agent."

MMWR 2005;54:537-540.

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