Forget the killer tomatos, the bananas are the ones you need to look out for. See they’ve already wiped out the monkey population in Costa Rica, and have landed advance troops in major North American cities. Run for your lives!
You see, the “necrotizing fasciitis” infected bananas don’t exist. And now, two years after I first wrote about this, I’m happy to say that they still don’t exist.
Here’s the original e-mail:
Date Collected: January 31, 2000
Subject: FW: Vital information regarding contaminated bananas!!
Please forward to everyone you love!!
I have checked the source and it is VALIDATED FROM THE CDC. (center for disease control in atlanta georgia)
Warning: Several shipments of bananas from Costa Rica have been infected with necrotizing fasciitis, otherwise known as flesh eating bacteria.
Recently this disease has decimated the monkey population in Costa Rica. We are now just learning that the disease has been able to graft itself to the skin of fruits in the region, most notably the Banana which is Costa Rica’s largest export. Until this finding scientist were not sure how the infection was being transmitted.
It is advised not to purchase Bananas for the next three weeks as this is the period of time for which bananas that have been shipped to the US with the possibility of carrying this disease. If you have eaten a banana in the last 2-3 days and come down with a fever followed by a skin infection seek “Medical Attention”!!!
The skin infection from necrotizing fasciitis is very painful and eats two to three centimeters of flesh per hour. Amputation is likely, death is possible.
If you are more than an hour from a medical center burning the flesh ahead of the infected area is advised to help slow the spread of the infection.
The FDA has been reluctant to issue a country wide warning because of fear nationwide panic. They have secretly admitted that they feel upwards of 15,000 Americans will be affected by this but that these are acceptable numbers.
Please forward this to as many people you care about as possible as we do not feel 15,000 people is an acceptable number.
Manheim Research Institute
Center for Disease Control
This hoax is one of my all-time favorites, a golden-oldie that probably seemed a lot more threatening in the pre-Anthrax scare-days. This hoax takes advantage of several actual medical near-disasters from a few years back: the flesh-eating strep virus, the brain-wrecking Mad Cow Disease, and everyone’s favorite — ebola. But like most internet hoaxes, its long on scares, and short on facts.
Here’s the debunking:
- The CDC debunks it: The hoax tries to sound official by quoting the Centers for Disease Control but those folks say that they know of no such cases. “Necrotizing fasciitis” is real, but it’s usually spread by face-to-face contact, and while it can contaminate food, the CDC says it’s unlikely to have done so in this case.
- Where’s the news? As the Anthrax scares showed, the news will jump on any story involving a wide-spread threat to the nation’s health. This was true before 9/11, and it’s even truer now. There have been no stories on this “incident”, but there are plenty of sites that debunk it.
To learn more about this hoax, check out these sources:
- About.com’s Urban Legends Guide: A short debunking of the hoax.
- “The Great Banana Scare of 2000” by About.com’s Urban Legends Guide: A far more extensive, blow-by-blow account of the scare that actually had people avoiding bananas for a while