A woman in her 80s died in November after being infected with the hepatitis E virus through a blood transfusion at a Japanese facility in what is believed to be the world’s first fatal case of this type, according to a report by the Japanese Red Cross Society.
The organization reported to a government panel Wednesday that the person who donated the blood may have been infected with the virus after eating raw deer meat. The same type of virus was found in the donor’s blood and the woman who died. No one else received the infected blood.
The hepatitis E virus can be found in deer and wild boar meat. Pregnant women and elderly people may suffer severe symptoms from the virus.
The elderly woman, who was receiving treatment for multiple myeloma, received the blood transfusion in July. Her liver functions deteriorated in October and she stopped receiving anti-cancer agents. Her condition then improved temporarily and her cancer treatment resumed before worsening again prior to her death.
The woman already had weakened liver functions caused by cancer treatment, leading her to develop fulminant hepatitis after being infected, the organization said.