Personalize Your APB ADVERTISING Swap what you've got for what you really want.


Crime, Justice, Safety: 8 Channels -- 26 Programs
NEWSCENTERCRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
SAFETY CENTERCRIMINAL JUSTICE PROFESSIONALS
CRIME SOLVERSRESOURCE CENTER
VIDEO CENTERMEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT
Breaking News    Missing    Internet Crime    Can You Believe This?    Major Cases    In Depth
Free E-mail Alert Live Police Scanners Forums
 Search    
My APB About APB Contact APB Newsletters Downloads

 APBNEWS.COM > NEWSCENTER > INTERNET CRIME > STORY
E-MAIL THIS STORY TO A FRIENDE-MAIL THE EDITORTALK ABOUT IT
Banana Rumor Called 'Internet Terrorism'
E-mail Claims Fruit Spread Flesh-Eating Bacteria

Feb. 25, 2000

By David Noack

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (APBnews.com) -- The attack of the killer bananas?

A trade group says absolutely not and is trying to squelch an Internet rumor that has been circulating by e-mail claiming that bananas from Costa Rica carry the "flesh-eating" bacteria called necrotizing fasciitis.

International Banana Association (IBA) Vice President Tim Debus calls the rumor "just another case of Internet terrorism like the recent hacker attacks on popular Web sites."

The e-mail, which has been around since late January and is still circulating, purports to come from the Manheim Research Institute of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta -- home of the real Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the respected U.S. government agency.

'Urgent warning'

Related Stories:

Hackers Plant Bogus Corporate Merger Announcement

When the Spam Hits the Fan

Four Plead Guilty in E-mail Spam Scam

Most Cybercrime Goes Unpunished

Feds Chase Bandits in the E-mail Box
 

Related Document:

The 'Killer Banana' E-mail

The "urgent warning" claims that necrotizing fasciitis has decimated the monkey population of Costa Rica and that researchers have recently discovered "the disease has been able to graft itself to the skin of fruits in the region, most notably the banana." Readers are warned that the infection can eat "2 to 3 centimeters of flesh an hour" and that amputation is likely and death possible.

After warning readers to avoid buying bananas for two to three weeks and advising getting medical help immediately if they develop a fever, the message attempts to cash in on suspicion of government.

"The FDA [Food and Drug Administration] has been reluctant to issue a countrywide warning because of fear of nationwide panic," the message says. "They have secretly admitted that they feel upwards of 15,000 Americans will be affected by this but that these are acceptable numbers."

The allegations prompted the CDC to debunk the claim, advising that the bacteria usually associated with the disease "frequently live in the human body."

Concerns voiced to CDC

"The usual route of transmission for these bacteria is from person to person," the advisory says. "Sometimes, they can be transmitted in foods, but this would be an unlikely cause for necrotizing fasciitis. FDA and CDC agree that the bacteria cannot survive long on the surface of a banana."

A spokeswoman for the CDC said officials have received more than 100 calls from people wanting to know the source of the claim and whether or not it's true.

The National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation, which researches the disease and offers support and education services, said the disease is not spread the way the hoax claims.

"The mere ingestion of these bacteria would only make you sick with vomiting or diarrhea, and I'm sure this has happened to many people already as part of normal human life," said Dr. John Shieh, a consulting physician in Los Angeles. "However, this will not cause you to get a necrotizing fasciitis. Don't worry about the bananas, anyway. Most of them you buy are from the USA."

Disrupting the economy?

Debus said the group has not contacted law enforcement and is just trying to get the word out that the allegations are false.

He said the hoax points up another way that cyber-pranksters can disrupt the economy. However, Debus said he has not seen any figures indicating a decline in banana sales.

Chiquita Brands International Inc., the banana producer, issued a statement denying the allegations.

"The report currently circulating on the Internet concerning Costa Rican bananas being contaminated with a rare bacteria is totally false," the company said. "Chiquita has received no reports of such contamination, and we have checked with the pertinent U.S. government agencies, which also confirm no reports of such contamination."

This is not the first Internet food hoax.

KFC targeted for fake chickens

Earlier this year, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) was hit with the rumor that they do not use real chickens in their products, and to make the claim appear real, the allegation came from a study purportedly conducted by the University of New Hampshire.

KFC officials released a statement suggesting that the hoax was malicious.

"This Internet hoax is intended to destroy the trust that you have placed in KFC to provide high-quality chicken meals at all of our restaurants," company officials said in a statement. "Although we hope that readers of the hoax will recognize it as obviously false, we take this or any other attack on the quality of KFC's product seriously."

Rose Miller, a computer security specialist with the Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC), which is part of the federal Department of Energy, posts hoax information as a public service.

"We tell people how to do their own evaluations and don't believe everything you receive in an e-mail, on Web sites, because anybody can post anything," said Miller.

David Noack is an APBnews.com staff writer (david.noack@apbnews.com).

More from APBnews.com:

Grand Jury Indicts Texas Mother on Capital Murder Charges

Justice Department Presses Justices to Reject Terry Nichols' Appeal

Chandra Levy's Family Considers Suing Rep. Gary Condit

Families to Subpoena DNA in Boston Strangler Case

Federal Officials Investigate Replacement Tire for Safety Issues

Rep. Gary Condit Agrees to Fourth Police Interview

DNA Evidence Helps Change Police Methods in New Jersey




Swap what you've got for what you really want.
Search 4,800 Justice Web Sites: APB Cybrary

The Back Door Into Cyber-Terrorism

The Top 10 Computer Security Flaws

Girl's Gift Computer Comes Loaded With Porn

Bill Would Put Megan's Law in Cyberspace

Little Damage After 'Killer Resume' Attack

FBI: New Computer Virus Spreading

Ruling Could Strip Online Anonymity

White House Seeks Curbs on Internet Drug Sales

Businesses Use $12 Billion of Stolen Software

Killer Put Tickets to His Execution on EBay Related Audio

Student Charged With Online Extortion Attempt

Hacker Attack Disables Official NHL Web Site

Feds Debunk E-mail on Deadly Sponges Related Document

Feds Want to Regulate Internet Privacy

EBay Halts Auction of Waco Rifle

Report: Feds Slow to React to 'Love Bug' Related Document

Fake IDs Flourish on Internet

Chameleon-like Virus Hits Internet


INTERNET CRIME ARCHIVES

TALK ABOUT IT

APBnews.com Poll:

Should public libraries be held criminally liable if children see pornography on the Internet through their computers?

Yes No

Share your thoughts about corporate snooping habits of e-mail, phone, and web surfing.

Are hackers crushing the Internet economy?

Do we need tougher gun control initiatives?

More NewsCenter Forums.

ELSEWHERE ON
THE WEB

Hacker Attacks D.C. City Web Site



 | HOME | NEWS | SAFETY | CRIMESOLVERS | MEDIA | CJ PROS | RESOURCES | CJ SYSTEM | VIDEO | FORUMS |
To Inform And Serve  ©Copyright 2000 APB Multimedia Inc. All rights reserved. ABOUT APB