The Pathology of Fatal Mediterranean Spotted Fever

Am J Clin Pathol. 1987 May;87(5):669-72. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/87.5.669.


A 77-year-old woman from rural Spain had a febrile summertime disease develop with rash, eschar, and pulmonary, abdominal, and neurologic signs and symptoms. Mediterranean spotted fever (MSF) was diagnosed late in the course, and antirickettsial treatment was given only during the last 30 hours of life. Clinical manifestations of severe disseminated vascular injury included thrombocytopenia, hypoalbuminemia, edema of the lungs and legs, and severe prerenal azotemia. The diagnosis was documented by specific serology. Necropsy revealed vascular injury with perivascular lymphohistiocytic infiltrates suggestive of rickettsiosis in the central nervous system, lung, heart, kidneys, esophagus, stomach, colon, pancreas, spleen, and thyroid. Gastric hemorrhage and acute pneumonia contributed to the patient's death on day 18 of illness. Antimicrobial treatment and host defenses apparently reduced rickettsiae to an undetectable quantity. MSF has increased in incidence in the Mediterranean basin and has been reported in travelers returning to the United States.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Boutonneuse Fever / complications
  • Boutonneuse Fever / mortality
  • Boutonneuse Fever / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Thrombosis / etiology
  • Thrombosis / pathology
  • Vasculitis / etiology
  • Vasculitis / pathology