Scurvy is still present in developed countries

Academic Article


  • INTRODUCTION: Scurvy, while uncommon, still occurs in developed countries despite the widespread availability of vitamins and fortified foods. A vitamin C deficiency prevalence of 10 to 14% in adults was reported in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in 1994. OBJECTIVE: We report the case of a 57-year-old male who presented with a combined vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) and a Zinc deficiency. INTERVENTIONS: He came to the emergency department complaining of a painful swollen ecchymotic leg and dyspnea. Prescriptions for narcotics did not relieve his symptoms. When a detailed dietary history was obtained, we added scurvy to the differential diagnosis. An extensive evaluation excluded trauma, coagulopathies, neoplasia, and vasculitides. MAIN RESULT: The combination of a classic skin biopsy and a low vitamin C level confirmed the diagnosis. CONCLUSION: This presentation illustrates the necessity of including scurvy in the differential diagnosis of ecchymoses and demonstrates specific populations at risk: single adults and the elderly with deficient diets. © 2008 Society of General Internal Medicine.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Velandia B; Centor RM; McConnell V; Shah M
  • Start Page

  • 1281
  • End Page

  • 1284
  • Volume

  • 23
  • Issue

  • 8