Fatal cerebral malaria diagnosed after death in a French patient

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2010 Sep;31(3):269-72. doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181e2efe4.


We report on the case of a French citizen who was found dead in his home, 4 days after returning from Cameroon. The patient died of imported malaria, as revealed by the postmortem investigations. Few such cases have been reported throughout the world. This article reviews deaths due to malaria diagnosed at the time of autopsy in France between 1995 and 2005. We conclude that the nonspecific symptoms of malaria can lead to a misdiagnosis and the need for a forensic expert to intervene at the scene of death, which usually occurs in the home. We will remind forensic pathologists of the clinical, biologic, and forensic aspects of this infectious disease. In particular, the uses of microbiologic analyses, the QBC malaria test and the Core malaria Pan/Pv/pf test as well as brain tissue histology will be reviewed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / parasitology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cameroon
  • Diagnostic Errors*
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Forensic Pathology
  • France
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Malaria, Cerebral / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Plasmodium falciparum / isolation & purification
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Spleen / pathology
  • Travel*


  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic