October 2, 2002
MEDIA CONTACT: Joann Rodgers
PHONE: 410-955-6680
E-MAIL: jrodgers@jhmi.edu

Confirmed Case of West Nile Virus at Hopkins 

State Health Department officials have confirmed the first case of West Nile virus in a Hopkins patient. The kidney transplant patient, who received the organ from a living donor on September 6, 2002, was discharged September 14, but readmitted September 16 and died October 1. Privacy and confidentiality policies prohibit us from giving further information about this individual.

However, Hopkins transplant and intensive care teams are working closely with State and Red Cross officials to conduct appropriate evaluations and identify blood product donors. The kidney donor has been notified and is being tested for evidence of infection.

Recent reports by the U. S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of cases of West Nile virus infection in organ transplant patients in Florida have prompted wide concern among health care providers across the nation.

However, the risk of infection from organ and blood products appears to be very low, although somewhat higher in patients receiving blood products. Currently, there is no practical method for rapidly screening blood and organ products for the virus itself. There is a test that can detect antibody to the West Nile Virus. Antibodies are part of the body's own natural defense system to fight infections. Specific antibodies are created to fight specific infectious agents, so that the development within the body of antibodies to the West Nile Virus is a strong indicator of West Nile Virus infection.

Further information about West Nile Virus can be found at:

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/transfusion.htm

http://www.nih.gov/news/westnile.htm

 


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