Scurvy: a disease almost forgotten
ABSTRACT Although much decreased in prevalence, scurvy still exists in industrialized societies. Few recent large studies have examined its pathogenesis, signs, and symptoms.
After we diagnosed scurvy in a 77-year-old female patient in 2003, we conducted a retrospective records review to identify patients with scurvy treated between 1976 and 2002 at Mayo Clinic (Scottsdale, Arizona; Rochester, Minnesota; or Jacksonville, Florida). We also searched the English-language medical literature for published reports on scurvy.
In addition to our patient, seven of 11 patients whose records in the institutional database mentioned vitamin C deficiency were women. The age ranged from a neonate to 77 years (mean, 48 years). The most common associated causes were concomitant gastrointestinal disease, poor dentition, food faddism, and alcoholism. Vitamin or mineral deficiencies other than vitamin C deficiency were also found in our patients who had scurvy. The most common symptoms were bruising, arthralgias, or joint swelling. The most common signs were pedal edema, bruising, or mucosal changes. Four patients had vague symptoms of myalgias and fatigue without classic findings, and five had concomitant nutritional deficiencies. Follow-up available for six of 12 patients treated by vitamin C supplementation showed complete resolution of symptoms in five.
Patients with scurvy may present with classic symptoms and signs or with nonspecific clinical symptoms and an absence of diagnostically suggestive physical findings. Concomitant deficiency states occur not uncommonly. Taking a thorough dietary history and measuring serum ascorbic acid levels should be considered for patients with classic signs and symptoms, nonspecific musculoskeletal complaints, or other vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
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ABSTRACT: This paper presents the first bioarchaeological evidence of probable scurvy in Southeast Asia from a six-year-old child at the historic-era site of Phnom Khnang Peung (15–17th centuries A.D.) in the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia. Examination of skeletal material shows evidence consistent with scurvy – specifically, abnormal porosity on the greater wings of the sphenoid bone and hard palate, and vascular impressions on the ectocranial surface of the frontal bone and maxillary alveolar bone. In addition, this individual has evidence of cribra orbitalia indicative of anemia. Although a nutritionally linked etiology is the most common cause of scurvy, a number of other factors influencing ascorbic acid levels need to be considered in an environment with sufficient vitamin C potentially available in the diet. Assessing the environmental evidence, the possibility of a number of interrelated factors contributing to the development of scurvy in this individual seems the most plausible explanation. Factors affecting vitamin C levels may have included social aspects of food allocation or choice of food, genetic predisposition, anemia, pathogens, and nutrient malabsorption.06/2014; 5. DOI:10.1016/j.ijpp.2014.01.004
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ABSTRACT: Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common in developing countries, but also occur in developed countries. We review micronutrient deficiencies for the major vitamins A, cobalamin (B(12)), biotin (vitamin H), vitamins C and E, as well as the minerals iron, and zinc, in the developed world, in terms of their relationship to systemic health and any resulting ocular disease and/or visual dysfunction. A knowledge of these effects is important as individuals with consequent poor ocular health and reduced visual function may present for ophthalmic care.Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 02/2008; 28(1):1-12. DOI:10.1111/j.1475-1313.2007.00531.x · 2.66 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Scurvy, or vitamin C deficiency, is rarely presented to a rheumatology clinic. It can mimic several rheumatologic disorders. Although uncommon, it may present as pseudovasculitis or chronic arthritis. Scurvy still exists today within certain populations, particularly in patients with neurodevelopmental disabilities, psychiatric illness or unusual dietary habits. Scurvy presentation to the rheumatologist varies from aches and mild pains to excruciating bone pain or arthritis. Musculoskeletal and mucocutaneous features of scurvy are often what prompts referrals to pediatric rheumatology clinics. Unless health care providers inquire about nutritional habits and keep in mind the risk of nutritional deficiency, it will be easy to miss the diagnosis of scurvy. Rarity of occurrence as compared to other nutritional deficiencies, combined with a lack of understanding about modern-day risk factors for nutritional deficiency, frequently leads to delayed recognition of vitamin C deficiency. We report a case of scurvy in a mentally handicapped Saudi child, who presented with new onset inability to walk with diffuse swelling and pain in the left leg. Skin examination revealed extensive ecchymoses, hyperkeratosis and follicular purpura with corkscrew hairs, in addition to gingival swelling with bleeding. Clinical diagnosis of scurvy was rendered and confirmed by low serum vitamin C level. The patient did extremely well with proper nutritional support and vitamin C supplementation. It has been noticed lately that there is increased awareness about scurvy in rheumatology literature. A high index of suspicion, together with taking a thorough history and physical examination, is required for diagnosis of scurvy in patient who presents with musculoskeletal symptoms. Nutritional deficiency should also be considered by the rheumatologist formulating differential diagnosis for musculoskeletal or mucocutaneous complaints in children, particularly those at risk.Pediatric Rheumatology 06/2015; 13(1):23. DOI:10.1186/s12969-015-0020-1 · 1.62 Impact Factor