In a study published in New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers have reported that rabies encephalitis may be spread from infected organ donor to organ recipient.
There had been report of four organ recipients (kidneys, Liver, and arterial segment) from a common donor dying of rabies encephalitis in US. The researchers conducted reviews of medical records of the donor and receivers, as well as inoculated mice with samples from the recipients.
The results showed that all four recipients developed encephalitis within 30 days after transplant and died within 13 days of the symptoms. Mice too died after a week of being inoculated with the recipient's samples. There were antibodies of rabies present in three of the four recipients and the donor, as well as other rabies specific immunohistochemicals.
The donor had complained of being bitten by a bat. The researchers had concluded that the donor was infected by rabies virus, which may have caused his death, and the subsequent organ transplants from the donor to the recipients have resulted in the recipients also being infected with the same virus.
The study shows that it is important to test for unusual pathogens before the transplant takes place.