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Cuadernos de Medicina Forense

versión On-line ISSN 1988-611Xversión impresa ISSN 1135-7606


FERNANDEZ-RODRIGUEZ, A.  y  MORENTIN CAMPILLO, B.. Protocol for the forensic action with regard to the suspicion of bacterial meningitis and fulminant septicemia. Cuad. med. forense [online]. 2004, n.37, pp.07-19. ISSN 1988-611X.

One of the main duties of medical-legal institutions is to collaborate with authorities to recognise and prevent risks to public health. One such risk is meningoceal infection, wich can progress rapidly and fataly, causing sudden death. In such cases, it is urgent to identify "Neisseria meningitidis" urgently in order to assure the appropiate treatment of people who have come into contact. This agent is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis and septicemia in children and young adults. Due to the rapid development of such infections, ante-mortem cultures sometimes are not taken, making the forensic diagnosis essential. Although post-mortem findings are often typical of the Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome, they may sometimes be overlooked or caused by other organisms. For these reasons, a microbiological forensic diagnosis is crucial. This article presents a forensic procedure to diagnose the etiology of fulminant bacterial meningitis or septic shock. The aseptic sampling should include blood, sera, LCR, pleural effusions, urine and fresh tissues. These samples can be submitted to the Instituto Nacional de Toxicología y Ciencias Forenses for their early analyses. Antigenic tests are performed as screening techniques, and real-time PCR assays are also done to detect meningococcus and identify its serogroup. The results of these analyses are reported in 3 hours. Bacterial cultures are also performed. Additional PCR may be performed to diagnose other fragile bacteria that are difficult to recover post-mortem. The collaboration within all legal institutions and between those and health authorities is essential to best deal with this issue.

Palabras clave : Sudden death; meningococcal infection; meningitis; meningococcus; PCR; forensic microbiology.

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