NC Airman At Center Of Rabies Case Was Outdoorsman - WSPA.com

NC Airman At Center Of Rabies Case Was Outdoorsman

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Health officials said last week that a Maryland man had died because the kidney he received from the 20-year-old airman in late 2011 was infected with rabies. Health officials said last week that a Maryland man had died because the kidney he received from the 20-year-old airman in late 2011 was infected with rabies.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

When William Edward Small told his father that he'd signed an organ donor card, it came as no surprise. "Little Ed" had been that way his whole life, his dad says.

Officials say that generosity may have inadvertently cost another man his life.

Health officials said last week that a Maryland man had died because the kidney he received from the 20-year-old airman in late 2011 was infected with rabies.

Alecia Mercer, the mother of the younger Small's 3-year-old son, confirmed Monday that the Trenton, N.C., man was the donor of the infected organs.

Fla. Company Supplied Organs In Rabies Case

A year and a half ago, officials told Small's loved ones he'd died of food poisoning or a stomach virus. Now, they must live with the knowledge that one man is dead, and several others may have been infected.

An official at an organ donation service in Florida says it was the supplier of transplanted organs from a man who later was found to have died of rabies.

The man's organs were transplanted into four people, one of whom died. The mother of his son on Monday identified the man as William Edward Small, who was in the Air Force.

Kathy Giery of LifeQuest Organ Recovery Services in Gainesville, Fla., said the hospital found he died from food poisoning from a toxin sometimes found in large saltwater fish. She says the organs were not tested for rabies because no one suspected it at the time.

The Defense Department has said he died of severe stomach and intestinal inflammation. The Florida Department of Health believed it was encephalitis.

NC Woman IDs Donor In Rabies Case

A North Carolina woman says her child's father is the Air Force mechanic whose rabies-infected organs were transplanted into multiple recipients, including a Maryland man who died.

Alecia Mercer of Trenton, N.C., said Monday that military and state health officials told her last week that William Edward Small had died of rabies in September 2011. At the time of his death, Mercer says she was told that Small died of complications from a stomach virus.

Doctors in Florida didn't test the 20-year-old Small for rabies before he died. A man who received an infected kidney died. His heart, liver and other kidney went to recipients in Florida, Georgia and Illinois.

Small had been in the Air Force for 17 weeks before he died. He was in Florida to train as aviation mechanic.

Rare Rabies Death From Organ Transplant Has NC Tie

Health officials are recommending vaccinations for at least one North Carolina relative of a rabies-infected man who died in Florida in 2011 and whose transplanted kidney fatally infected a Maryland man.

North Carolina's top public health veterinarian said Friday fewer than five family members from North Carolina visited the rabies-infected man while he was hospitalized in Florida. Dr. Carl Williams says health officials have contacted the relatives and are evaluating their rabies risks.

Williams wouldn't describe where the man lived before moving to Florida, saying even naming the county could identify the rabies victim. Rabies is common in wildlife statewide.

The Maryland man's rare death from a disease-infected organ means three others who received the former North Carolina man's other kidney, heart and liver are getting treatment.

Md. Rabies Death Was From Organ Transplant

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a rabies death in Maryland was caused by an organ transplant.

The agency said Friday that three other people in Florida, Georgia and Illinois who got organs from the same donor are getting anti-rabies shots.

The donor died in Florida in 2011 after moving there from North Carolina.

The CDC says it's working with public health officials and health care facilities in all five states to identify people who were in close contact with the initial donor or the four organ recipients. The agency says those people might need rabies post-exposure treatment.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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