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Last Updated: Monday, 21 February, 2005, 16:25 GMT
Two die in German rabies outbreak
Poster warning of the dangers of rabies (archive)
The disease is normally spread through bites from rabid mammals
Two people have died in Germany after receiving organs from a donor infected with rabies.

The donor was a 26-year-old woman who is thought to have spent time in India.

The latest victim was a 70-year-old man who had a kidney transplant, a clinic at Hannoversch Muenden in northern Germany said.

A woman who received a lung from the donor died at the weekend, while a third patient who received a pancreas and a kidney is seriously ill.

However, three other recipients of organs from the donor have so far shown no signs of the disease.

The donor herself died of a heart attack in December.

The donor's lungs, cornea, kidneys, pancreas and liver were removed after her death and used for patients in several German regions.

The German Organ Transplant Foundation said the woman had shown no clear symptoms for rabies, and her organs had been thoroughly tested for bacteria, viruses and tumours before the transplants.


Rabies can be transmitted to humans through animal bites and is nearly always fatal. A quick vaccination can generally prevent the outbreak of the disease.

The virus infects the central nervous system. Symptoms include fever and headache and can progress to partial paralysis, hallucinations and fear of water. Death usually occurs within days of the symptoms appearing.

Although rare in developed countries, rabies kills thousands of people each year in developing nations, including India.

Most human cases arise from dog bites, though many animals can carry the disease.

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