Three transplant patients have died of a rodent virus after receiving contaminated organs from the same donor, the state Health Department said Monday.

Health officials said it is only the second documented case anywhere in the world that the viral infection LCMV (search) has been transmitted through an organ transplant.

Two people from Massachusetts and one from Rhode Island died in late April and early May of LCMV, which is associated with exposure to rodent waste, health officials said. The patients received lung, kidney and liver tissue, officials said.

The source of the infection was found to be an organ donor from Rhode Island, who died of unrelated causes. Officials said that at least one pet at that person's home — a hamster — tested positive for LCMV. They said the hamster was bought at a pet store in Warwick.