A fatal case of streptococcal and meningococcal meningitis in a 2-years-old child occurring as Waterhouse-Friderichsen Syndrome

Francesco Ventura, Alessandro Bonsignore, Federica Portunato, Giulio Fraternali Orcioni, Oliviero E. Varnier, Francesco De Stefano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We report a fatal case of streptococcal and meningococcal meningitis in a previously healthy 2-year-old child, a simultaneous co-infection of both pathogens that is poorly reported in the reviewed literature. The lack of a clinical diagnosis in addition to the medico-legal aspects arising from possible professional liability for the emergency service doctor who had failed to recognize the child 's symptoms led to a forensic autopsy within 48 h after the death. After external and internal examination, Waterhouse-Friderichsen Syndrome (WFS) was suspected. Consequently, cerebrospinal fluid, whole blood, nasal and pharyngeal swab and pleural liquid samples were selected and collected for microbiological studies. All tested samples resulted Neisseria meningitidis DNA and Streptococcus pneumoniae DNA positive. The NM genotyping Real-Time PCR resulted positive for NM serotype C. Microscopic histological study confirmed these findings. We underline that when a patient presents fever and petechiae (50-60% of patients), WFS must be considered, even when the patient has a non-toxic appearance. Due to its rapid progression and often devastating consequences, therapy should be started as soon as WFS is suspected. Emphasis should also be placed on the importance of public education programs and on broadening protection against meningitis through new vaccines. In such cases, from a forensic point of view, there is a strong need for a robust, multidisciplinary approach in order to reach the correct post-mortem diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)678-682
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
Volume20
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Co-infection
  • Fatal streptococcal-meningococcal
  • Meningitis
  • Professional liability profiles
  • Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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