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J Forensic Leg Med. 2009 Nov;16(8):478-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jflm.2009.07.005. Epub 2009 Aug 12.

Lemierre syndrome and unexpected death in childhood.

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Forensic Science SA, Adelaide, Australia.


Lemierre syndrome refers to necrotizing infections of the head due to Fusobacterium necrophorum and has been called the 'forgotten disease' due to its rarity in the antibiotic era. Recently, however, more cases have been documented in the literature suggesting that there has been an increase in incidence. A 10-year-old boy is reported who had a five-day history of ear infection, with the development of fever, drowsiness and ipsilateral neck swelling. Unexpected cardiac arrest occurred soon after medical assessment. At autopsy, right otitis media was demonstrated with extension of suppurative infection into subcutaneous tissues behind the ear and also into the extradural space at the lateral end of the petrous temporal bone. There was also septic thrombophlebitis of the adjacent sigmoid sinus, but no evidence of meningitis. This case demonstrates yet another infectious condition that may be associated with rapid deterioration and unexpected death in childhood. An autopsy approach to suspected sepsis in childhood is outlined.

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