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Special CDC Web site debunks Internet's medical urban legends
CMAJ 2001;164(11):1609 [PDF]

Medical hoaxes and urban legends are becoming so common on the Internet that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created a special Web site to counter them.

In early April the site carried warnings about 9 rumours and hoaxes, including one involving Internet "news" that bananas from Costa Rica cause necrotizing fasciitis.

CDC spokesperson John Burckhardt says the hoax/rumours page was launched 2 years ago and is updated any time "there is an appreciable expression of public interest or concern regarding a topic about which the CDC has a responsibility to inform."

The most recent postings point out that HIV cannot be transmitted through contact with the material used to make a new feminine sanitary pad and that a child in Texas did not die of a heroin overdose after being stuck by a used needle found in a play area.

Burckhardt says the page focuses on Internet hoaxes, but this "also has the effect of covering media such as newspapers, since they quickly move information to the Internet." — Patrick Sullivan, CMAJ



Copyright 2001 Canadian Medical Association or its licensors