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Gamma-Benzene Hexachloride Toxicity

MICHAEL JARRATT, MD; DONALD HAZELRIGG, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1975;129(1):137. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1975.02120380105028.
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Sir.—Recently we submitted a report of a case of widespread scabies in an infant to the Journal. A comment by one of the reviewers was disturbing in that he seemed overly concerned about the toxicity of gamma-benzene hexachloride (Kwell). We assumed that he had reference to a previous article that appeared in the July 1973 issue of the Journal (126:226, 1973) by Sidney Hurwitz, MD, who said that topical application of gamma-benzene hexachloride held significant risk of toxicity to the liver and possible induction of porphyria.

We would like to correct this misconception of gamma-benzene hexachloride toxicity. Dr. Hurwitz reminded his readers of the Turkish episode in 1963 when many persons developed porphyria following the accidental ingestion of hexachlorobenzene, a fungicide contaminating wheat not intended for human consumption.1 We should like to point out that hexachlorobenzene is an entirely different molecule from gamma-benzene hexachloride. Hexachlorobenzene has a molecular

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