Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome Presenting as Suspected Child Abuse

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Natural disease processes can predispose individuals to develop external body lesions that mimic traumatic injury. This can be particularly problematic in pediatric cases in which clinicians are alerted to the problems of child abuse. Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome is a systemic infectious illness that can manifest itself with erythematous and necrotizing skin lesions. We report a fatal case of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome in a 4-year-old girl who presented with skin lesions that were initially thought to be traumatic in origin. A report of possible child abuse was filed with the state. Based on the morphologic findings and bacteriologic culture results at autopsy, these lesions and the cause of death in this case were instead determined to result from streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

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