What else in times of COVID-19? The role of minimally invasive autopsy for the differential diagnosis of acute respiratory failure in a case of kala-azar

Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo. 2023 Jun 1:65:e36. doi: 10.1590/S1678-9946202365036. eCollection 2023.


Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a chronic vector-borne zoonotic disease caused by trypanosomatids, considered endemic in 98 countries, mainly associated with poverty. About 50,000-90,000 cases of VL occur annually worldwide, and Brazil has the second largest number of cases in the world. The clinical picture of VL is fever, hepatosplenomegaly, and pancytopenia, progressing to death in 90% of cases due to secondary infections and multi-organ failure, if left untreated. We describe the case of a 25-year-old female who lived in the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo, who had recently taken touristic trips to several rural areas in Southeastern Brazil and was diagnosed post-mortem. During the hospitalization in a hospital reference for the treatment of COVID-19, the patient developed acute respiratory failure, with chest radiographic changes, and died due to refractory shock. The ultrasound-guided minimally invasive autopsy diagnosed VL (macrophages containing amastigote forms of Leishmania in the spleen, liver and bone marrow), as well as pneumonia and bloodstream infection by gram-negative bacilli.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autopsy
  • Brazil
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral* / complications
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral* / diagnosis
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral* / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Insufficiency* / diagnosis