The Newsroom    Published Thursday, May. 25, 2006, 12:14 PM
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Hamster and Patients' Deaths

Washington DC Post (Internet / Print) 05/25/06 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/24/AR2006052402333.html A virus killed three patients in the past year after they received donated body organs, and a pet hamster may be partly to blame, a report said yesterday. The deaths occurred in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and each involved patients who had received transplanted organs from the same woman, 45, whose hamster was later found to carry the virus, researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. The virus was not found in the woman. The patients all received drugs that suppressed their immune systems, which may have allowed the virus to thrive. "In any immune-compromised person, you have a risk of having the virus spread through the body," wrote C.J. Peters, 65, of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The report also noted four fatalities involving transplants in Wisconsin and Minnesota in 2003 in which the same virus was found. All the cases involved the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, which can cause a severe form of meningitis. Peters said he does not consider it a major risk in transplants.



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