On chickenpox and flesh eating disease

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Regarding the link to the article on chickenpox and flesh eating disease (necrotising fasciitis), this is not a new observation. However, Red Flags readers may be interested to know that it is not a simple association in that people who get chickenpox are not generally at risk of necrotising fasciitis unless they attempt to treat chickenpox with certain drugs such as those that contain paracetamol/acetaminophen.

Chickenpox is a benign and self-limiting disease in healthy children and adults, although adults do seem to suffer more from the disease. Research has shown that 95% of 15 year olds have immunity to chickenpox in unvaccinated communities, even where there is no history of having the disease. It seems that many children contract the disease and have a sub-clinical infection, manifesting few, if any, obvious symptoms.

The problem comes about when over-anxious parents and over-zealous medical professionals feel the need to treat the disease with antipyretics such as paracetamol, and suppress the vital infection fighting fever. Often the symptoms are suppressed and driven deeper into the body, against the body's natural defences. 

At least three medical papers have pointed out the dangers of administering paracetamol/acetominophen during chickenpox (Pediatr I Pediatrics, Vol 103, No 4, April 1999, 783-784 and 785-790; Infect Med, 1999 16 (5): 307). Parents and doctors in New Zealand were warned in 2001 of a link between the use of over-the-counter painkillers and the subsequent development of necrotising fasciitis in people who had had chickenpox.

It is interesting that chickenpox was always regarded as a benign, albeit uncomfortable and annoying disease, until a vaccine was developed. All of a sudden there were all sorts of dire warnings about how serious the disease was, including reports of deaths. Media and pharmaceutical industry spin have turned this childhood right of passage into a deadly disease, created fear in the community and a demand for the vaccine. This latest article on necrotising fasciitis and chicken pox will only serve to further line the pockets of the vaccine manufacturers and will do nothing to promote the health of our children.


Sue Claridge