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Diagnostic Value of Polymerase Chain Reaction Analysis of Skin Biopsies in Purpura Fulminans

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Abstract

Even though prompt diagnosis and treatment of purpura fulminans (PF) is essential to reduce mortality, early administration of antibiotics may preclude identification of the causative agent by standard bacterial cultures and thus render definitive diagnosis impossible. Here we present a case of an infant with PF and negative bacterial cultures for whom polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis of a cutaneous biopsy specimen obtained 4 days after initiation of antibiotics identified the genomic sequence of Neisseria meningitidis genogroup C. When bacterial cultures fail to provide useful information, PCR of skin biopsy specimens can be a valuable diagnostic tool in PF.

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