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Immigrant dies in custody from rabies

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Posted: Jun 12, 2013 5:07 PM

Updated: Jun 12, 2013 5:08 PM

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) An immigrant from Guatemala died while in U.S. custody from what doctors diagnosed as rabies, immigration officials said Wednesday.

Federico Mendez-Hernandez, 28, died Tuesday at Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital in Corpus Christi, according to a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The U.S. Border Patrol apprehended Mendez-Hernandez on May 9 after he entered the country illegally near Hidalgo. On May 18, he was taken to a Kingsville hospital after showing rabies-like symptoms. He was transferred the next day to the hospital in Corpus Christi.

The rabies diagnosis was confirmed Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ICE said. Tests indicated it was a canine rabies virus variant common in Central America. He showed no symptoms when apprehended and officials believe he contracted the disease before entering the country. Health officials are investigating who may have come into contact with Mendez-Hernandez in the United States.

Alba Caceres, Guatemala's consul in McAllen, Texas, said Wednesday that she was at the hospital Tuesday when the decision was made to take Mendez-Hernandez off life support. She said he had entered a coma within a couple days of displaying rabies symptoms.

She said doctors conducted two additional tests Tuesday that showed no brain activity before the decision was made to end life support.

Guatemalan officials have contacted his family but will await an autopsy before repatriating the body, Caceres said. The family authorized the autopsy and was on the phone when he was disconnected from life support Tuesday, she said.

Topics: Immigrant-Rabies

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