Donor-derived ehrlichiosis: two clusters following solid organ transplantation
Ehrlichiosis has been infrequently described as transmissible through organ transplantation. Two donor derived clusters of ehrlichiosis are described here. During the summer of 2020, two cases of ehrlichiosis were reported to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for investigation. Additional transplant centers were contacted to investigate similar illness in other recipients and samples were sent to CDC. Two kidney recipients from a common donor developed fatal ehrlichiosis-induced hemophagocytic lymphocytic histiocytosis (HLH). Two kidney recipients and a liver recipient from another common donor developed ehrlichiosis. All three were successfully treated.
Clinicians should consider donor-derived ehrlichiosis when evaluating recipients with fever early after transplantation after more common causes are ruled out, especially if the donor has epidemiological risk factors for infection. Suspected cases should be reported to the organ procurement organization (OPO) and the OPTN for further investigation by public health authorities.