African Hoax: Flesh Eating Bananas
Sales of bananas in the east African nation of Mozambique have fallen through the floor since someone started sending e-mails and text messages claiming bananas grown in South Africa are infected with "flesh eating bacteria."
The hoaxers claim the infamous bacterium causes necrotizing fasciitis, an extremely rare infection of the deeper layers of skin and subcutaneous tissues, often referred to as a "flesh eating disease".
It's a skin disease, and it cannot be caused by eating fruit.
Merchants are outraged and puzzled, because bananas sold in Mozambique are home-grown -- in Mozambique -- not South Africa. In fact, Mozambique exports bananas to South Africa, but that fact is lost on the panic-stricken consumers who are avoiding bananas altogether.
The Ministry of Health has assured consumers that the messages are a hoax and that there are no reports of anyone getting sick by eating infected bananas. And the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Trade have issued a joint statement stating there's no record of infected produce of any kind coming into the country.
But, those steps are doing little or nothing to quell the fears. One banana supplier in Mozambique's capital says he's been unable to move bananas out of his warehouse because of the rumors.
When you hear about this sort of thing, the quickest way to find the culprits is to "follow the money."
Who stands to profit most if Mozambique banana growers can't sell them to their own people and export them to South Africa?
Perhaps a competing banana grower in a neighboring country who wants to move into the Mozambique and South African markets? Just a guess.