Infectious Disease Online
Pathology of Blackwater Fever
| "After several
descriptions by Hippocrates and a single possible medieval description
by Gilles de Corbeil, a severe febrile illness accompanied by the
passage of dark urine burst upon the medical scene in West Africa in
1819, described by an English surgeon named Tidlie."
Blackwater fever or hemoglobinuric fever is a very dangerous complication of malignant malaria.
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This clinical entity is characterized by acute intravascular hemolysis classically occuring after the re-introduction of quinine in long-term residents in Plasmodium falciparum endemic areas and repeatedly using the product.
This condition is also common in patients who have been subject to excessive fatigue, exhaustion, shock or injury, intercurrent infection, childbirth or alcoholic excess.
Clinical presentation: Within a few days of onset there are chills, with rigor, high fever, jaundice, vomiting, rapidly progressive anemia and the passage of dark red or black urine.
The cause of hemolytic crises in this disease is unknown.
There is rapid and massive destruction of red blood cells with the production of hemoglobinemia, hemoglobunuria, intense jaundice, anuria, and finally death in the majority of cases.
The most probable explanation for blackwater fever is an autoimmune reaction.
Pathology: Macroscopically and microscopically the kidneys show features similar to those of hemoglobinuric or tubular nephrosis.
The severity of the clinical picture often requires initial management in intensive care unit.
Nowadays, however, prognosis is good and the disease usually regresses without after effects.
Blackwater fever: the rise and fall of an exotic disease.J Nephrol. 2009 Nov-Dec;22 Suppl 14:120-8.
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