Date Added: Aug. 9, 2002
This anonymous, undated health warning has been around since at least 1999. And it isn't showing any signs of slowing, having been translated to several different languages and applied to numerous different locations.
FLESH EATING BACTERIA FROM BANANAS 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 scientists 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 of a 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.
The name "necrotizing fasciitis" almost sounds fictitious, but is a real condition caused by a Group A streptococcus bacterium. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, spread of the bacteria is mostly limited to "direct contact with mucus from the nose or throat of persons who are infected or through contact with infected wounds or sores on the skin.
Often, a person can carry the bacteria, but not develop any disease from it. Invasive conditions like necrotizing fasciitis occur when the bacteria invade "parts of the body where bacteria usually are not found, such as the blood, muscle, or the lungs."
There were only 600 cases of necrotizing fasciitis in the United States in 1999.
The International Banana Association calls this chain letter a hoax and cites a lack of scientific or medical evidence. In a statement, IBA Vice President, Tim Debus, points out the problem with relying on e-mail for this type of information and reassures us that it's safe to eat bananas:
While the Internet offers users many benefits, there are clearly drawbacks in its ability to disseminate misinformation quite rapidly to the general public. The IBA assures consumers that all bananas are safe to eat. Consumers can continue to have confidence in the quality of bananas and enjoy them as part of a healthy diet.
Other red flags in this one:
BreakTheChain.org strongly recommends agains forwarding or relying on randomly forwarded e-mail chain letters for medical advice and warnings. They often create more problems than they solve. For example, the CDC was so overwhelmed by calls on this hoax, that they had to establish a dedicated phone hotline (404-371-5375) to deal with it. Not to mention all the unnecessary concern it creates. Break this chain!