Volume 33, Issue 2 (March 1988)

    Postmortem Diagnosis of Meningococcemia by Detection of Capsular Polysaccharides

    (Received 24 February 1987; accepted 1 June 1987)

    Published Online: March


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    Detection of specific meningococcal capsular polysaccharide (CPS) in postmortem blood permits rapid diagnosis of meningococcemia and differentiation from pneumococcemia and septicemia caused by Haemophilus influenzae Type b. We present studies validating application of latex agglutination assay for CPS on blood samples collected at autopsy, delineate the circumstances when CPS testing is indicated, and illustrate the usefulness of this procedure by several recent cases. Blood samples from victims dying of injury or disease other than infection were examined to determine whether the postmortem interval, bacterial contamination, anticoagulants, or delay in testing would result in false positive assays. Series 1 samples, collected so as to minimize bacterial contamination, were immediately submitted for assay. Series 2 evaluated the effect of adverse conditions of collection, anticoagulation, and prolonged sample storage. Despite extended postmortem intervals of up to 14 days, heavy bacterial contamination, prolonged storage at 4°C, deep hemolysis, and presence of anticoagulants, false positive assays were seldom observed.

    Author Information:

    Morrissey, AM
    Assistant director, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Department of Pathology, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland, OH

    Jacobs, MR
    Director, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland, OH

    Challener, RC
    Deputy coroner, Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office, Cleveland, OH

    Stock #: JFS11947J

    ISSN: 0022-1198

    DOI: 10.1520/JFS11947J

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    Title Postmortem Diagnosis of Meningococcemia by Detection of Capsular Polysaccharides
    Symposium , 0000-00-00
    Committee E30