Disseminated gonococcemia

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A 26-year-old woman presented with a high-grade fever and chills of 2 days’ duration. She complained of associated joint pain, especially in the wrists and knees. One day before admission, tender skin lesions began to develop on the fingers, and subsequently spread to the more proximal extremities. The patient recalled having a sore throat and a nonproductive cough before the onset of the fever and eruption.The past medical history was significant for Gardnerella vaginitis and several urinary tract infections. The patient was taking oral contraceptive pills; her most recent menstruation was 3 weeks before admission. She reported having sexual intercourse with her boyfriend 2 weeks before admission.The patient's temperature was 40 °C. Dermatologic examination revealed a 6-mm, hemorrhagic pustule on an ill-defined pink base, overlying the volar aspect of the left second proximal interphalangeal joint (Fig. 1a). Scattered on the upper and lower extremities were occasional round, ill-defined pink macules with central pinpoint vesiculation (Fig. 1b). A skin biopsy of the digit revealed a dense neutrophilic infiltrate with leukocytoclasis and marked fibrin deposition in the superficial and deep dermal vessels (Fig. 2a). Gram stains demonstrated the presence of Gram-negative diplococci (Fig. 2b).Laboratory findings included leukocytosis (leukocyte count of 20 × 109/L, with 81% neutrophils). Analysis of an endocervical specimen by polymerase chain reaction was positive for Neisseria gonorrhoeae and negative for Chlamydia trachomatis. Throat and blood cultures grew N. gonorrhoeae. Specimen cultures obtained by skin biopsy yielded no growth. Results of serologic analysis for human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis, syphilis, and pregnancy were negative.Beginning on admission, intravenous ceftriaxone, 2 g, was administered every 24 h for 6 days, followed by oral cefixime, 400 mg twice daily for 4 days. Oral azithromycin, 1 g, was administered to treat possible coinfection with C. trachomatis. By treatment day 4, the patient was afebrile, with the resolution of leukocytosis and symptomatic improvement of arthralgias.

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