Flesh-eating disease

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 47, No. 7, September 2005, Page 351 Letters

Although I am 80 years old and retired, my brain occasionally fires up as it did this morning when I heard of another case of “flesh-eating” disease.

When I was a child there were no antibiotics, and cuts, abrasions, and the like were treated by conscientious moms very seriously with cleansing, antisepsis (usually tincture of iodine or peroxide) and a clean (ironed) bandage. Perhaps we have become too careless in our overdependence on the antibiotics.

Nevertheless, the infection has to enter the body and I think the recent cases should be evaluated as to what initial treatment was given. I was struck with the horrible thought that the fomite might even be some proprietary salve applied in good faith.

By the way, it—or similar conditions—used to be called necrotizing fasciitis or surgical scarlet fever. I have seen both. One has crepitus and the other a brilliant local scarlet rash.

—Jim Battershill, MD
North Vancouver

Jim Battershill, MD. Flesh-eating disease. BCMJ, Vol. 47, No. 7, September, 2005, Page(s) 351 - Letters.

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