Maryland man dies after receiving an organ transplant from the body of a man infected with rabies

The organ donor was training with the Air Force in Florida when he became infected

Published On: Mar 16 2013 08:13:28 AM EDT   Updated On: Mar 17 2013 09:43:04 AM EDT
rabies pic

The Defense Department says a man whose organs were donated to four people, before it was learned he had rabies, was in the Air Force and was training in Florida when he became ill.

Spokeswoman Cynthia Wright identified the donor as a 20-year-old North Carolina man who had been in the Air Force for about 17 weeks before he died in 2011. He was training to become an aviation mechanic in Pensacola, when he became sick.

A Maryland patient who received one of the man's kidneys later died of rabies. Maryland health officials say his death is the first rabies-related fatality since 1976.

Public health officials say they're trying to identify people in five states who were in close contact with the donor or the recipients. So far authorities are treating three other people who received organs from the donor from Florida, Georgia and Illinois.