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Reporting an Unexplained Critical Illnesses or Death

On this page:
How to report
Testing provided
Examples of cases

How to report an unexplained critical illness or death

To report an unexplained critical illness or death, please call 651-201-5414.
A voice mail message may be left on evenings and weekends.

CDC pathologists are also available for consultation about unexplained deaths of suspected infectious etiology. Please call 651-201-5414 for information on how to contact the CDC pathologists.

Testing provided through the Unexplained Critical Illnesses and Deaths Project

Testing provided through the Unexplained Critical Illnesses and Deaths Project for unexplained deaths that appear likely to have infectious etiologies will be primarily pathology-directed. Therefore, it is important when possible to provide optimal pathology specimens.

Testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is available for cases meeting the inclusion criteria (previously healthy, ages 0-49 years, with evidence of possible community-acquired infection) but may also be made available for any fatal illness with autopsy findings suggestive of an infectious disease.

Examples of cases that should be reported

The following are examples of cases that should be reported to the Minnesota Department of Health for the Unexplained Critical Illnesses and Deaths Project:

  • A 46-year-old male presents in the emergency room with hypotension and confusion after a two-day history of fever and chills; he arrests and dies in the emergency room. Cultures done on autopsy are negative after 48 hours.

  • A 22-year-old female is admitted to ICU comatose following a fever, headache, and vomiting of two days duration. Cerebrospinal fluid is cloudy. Antibiotics were started prior to lumbar puncture. Cultures and antigen testing are negative.

  • A 15-year-old male is found dead at home with no prior symptoms of illness. Autopsy reveals acute lymphocytic myocarditis of presumed viral etiology. No specific virus is identified.

  • A 38-year-old female is admitted with fulminant hepatitis and dies 24 hours after admission. All viral hepatitis testing is negative. No non-infectious cause (such as a toxic exposure) is identified.

  • A 7-year-old male is admitted to ICU for apparent viral/aseptic meningoencephalitis. Cultures and initial serologies are negative.

  • A 30-year-old female is admitted to the hospital with fever and pneumonia. Her condition deteriorates and she is transferred to ICU and placed on a ventilator when she develops acute respiratory distress syndrome. Normal bacterial flora are isolated in the sputum. Bronchoalveolar lavage cultures and blood cultures are negative after 48 hours.


Updated Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 11:14AM