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An Autopsy Case of Sudden Unexplained Death Caused by Malaria

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Sudden unexplained deaths, especially those unwitnessed can lead to forensic issues and would necessitate the need for a meticulous and complete postmortem examination including ancillary investigations to discover the cause of death. We herein report a case of sudden unexplained death caused by malaria in an apparently healthy individual. This fatal case is presented to remind the forensic pathologist of the possibility of malaria as a cause of sudden unexplained death in malaria-endemic regions. In the present case, histopathological examination demonstrated the presence of parasitized red blood cells with malarial pigment in the blood capillaries in the brain, myocardium, pericardium, lungs, kidneys, liver, and the spleen. Cerebral malaria with acute renal insufficiency or pulmonary edema with an acute respiratory distress syndrome might have been the cause of death.

Keywords: Plasmodium falciparum; forensic histopathology; forensic pathology; forensic science; malaria; malaria-endemic region; medicolegal autopsy; sudden unexplained death

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore, India. 2: Department of Pathology, Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore, India. 3: Department of Human Anatomy and Embryology, Saba University School of Medicine, Saba, Netherlands Antilles. 4: Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India. 5: Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, K. S. Hegde Medical Academy, Mangalore, India.

Publication date: 2010-05-01

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