CDC Investigation of West Nile Virus Reveals Possible Transmission Through Organ Transplant

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Georgia State Department of Health, the Florida Department of Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration continue to investigate possible West Nile Virus transmission through organ transplantation.

The CDC's Fort Collins Laboratory and the Florida Department of Health Laboratory have confirmed that three of four persons who received organs from a single recipient were infected with the West Nile virus. The three confirmed organ recipients all had encephalitis; one has died and the other two are recovering in the hospital.

The Florida Department of Health is obtaining samples from the fourth organ donor recipient for West Nile virus testing. This person developed a febrile illness after transplantation and is now recovering at home.

Testing of the organ donor demonstrated evidence of West Nile virus infection from samples taken at the time of death. The means of the donor's infection remains under investigation; it is most likely that the donor became infected with the West Nile virus through a mosquito bite or via blood transfusion shortly before organ donation.

As a precaution, remaining blood products from donors of blood given to the organ donor as well to the organ recipients are being recalled. Donors of blood given to the organ donor are being contacted so testing for West Nile virus can be done. Recipients of blood products from these donors are also being contacted and tested for the West Nile virus.

The CDC, FDA, Georgia and Florida state health departments, Health Resources and Services Administration, and blood collection agencies are working together to identify the source of the organ donor's infection.

Source: CDC