February 12, 2000
About Flesh Eating Bacteria in Costa Rican Bananas are False, CDC Says
Atlanta, GA (SafetyAlerts) - The rumors, circulating
on the Internet, concerning a so-called flesh eating bacteria carried by Costa Rican
bananas are false, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in
Although the bacteria can be transmitted in foods,
the usual route of transmission is from person to person. The Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) and the CDC agree that this type of bacteria could not survive for
long on the surface of a banana. Foodborne transmission of this bacteria would be
unlikely to cause necrotizing fasciitis, which is sometimes referred to as a
The e-mail also instructs people to burn their own
flesh to prevent infection from spreading if they are more than one hour away from a
medical facility, and health officials say they would not advise people in this manner.
The chain letter is signed by a group calling
itself the "Manheim Research Institute, Center for Disease Control, Atlanta
Georgia." There is no institute by that name within CDC.
Group A streptococcus is the most frequent cause
necrotizing fasciitis. Group A streptococcus is a bacterium often found in the
throat and on the skin. People may carry group A streptococci in the throat or on the skin
and have no symptoms of illness. Most infections are relatively mild illnesses such as
"strep throat," or impetigo. On rare occasions, these bacteria can cause other
severe and even life-threatening diseases such as necrotizing fasciitis.
Early signs and symptoms of
necrotizing fasciitis include fever, severe pain and swelling and redness at the wound
site. Anyone displaying symptoms such as these should consult a physician.