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Frequency of myocarditis in cases of fatal meningococcal infection in children: observations on 31 cases studied at autopsy.

The frequency of myocarditis associated with meningococcal disease in children was reported only in two autopsied series (United States and South Africa). Here we report the frequency of associated myocarditis in 31 children who died of meningococcal infection at Hospital Infantile N.S. da Glória in Vitória, Espirito Santo State, Brazil. The diagnosis was confirmed by isolation of Neisseria meningitidis. At least three sections of fragments of both atria and ventricles were studied using the Dallas Criteria for the morphologic diagnosis of myocarditis. The mean age was 47.6 +/- 39.8 months and the mean survival time after the onset of symptoms was 46.1 +/- 26.5 h (12-112 h). Myocarditis was present in 13 (41.9%) patients, being of minimal severity in 11 cases and of moderate severity in 2 cases. There were no cases with severe diffuse myocarditis. The frequency of myocarditis was not influenced by sex, presence of meningitis, survival time after the onset of symptoms or use of vasoactive drugs. The frequency of myocarditis reported here was intermediate between the values reported in the only two case series published in the literature (57% in the United States and 27% in South Africa). Although our data confirm the high frequency of myocarditis in meningococcal disease, further investigations are necessary to elucidate the contribution of myocarditis to myocardial dysfunction observed in cases of meningococcal infection in children.

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