Wash your Undies!

Parasites Infesting the Breast- Truth! & Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

This one is accompanied by both a photograph and a video of what is said to be parasites infesting a woman’s breast and creating a grotesque site. The story warns that women should be sure and wash a new bra to make sure any parasites have been eliminated. It also recommends ironing underwear for the same reason. It tells the story of an anthropologist named Susan McKinley who returned from a trip to South America with a rash that evolved into a worm-infested breast.

The Truth:
We have not found anything to substantiate the Susan McKinley story or the photograph of the alleged larvae in a female breast. There is no alarm being spread by doctors about getting worms from new and unwashed bras. The picture accompanying the eRumor is a fabrication. It combines a picture of a woman’s breast with a picture of what has been identified as flower seeds. A flower expert suggested to TruthOrFiction.com that it was the pod of a water lotus.

The video that comes with some versions of the eRumor, however, is real but has nothing to do with either the story told in the eRumor or the photograph. The eRumor circulated for more than two years before the video started appearing attached to it. The video shows a close-up of a medical worker using tweezers to remove worms from a woman’s breast. It is from a case reported from Africa in which Nigerian woman has what is called “cutaneous myiasis” of the breast due to an infestation by the larva of the Tumbu fly. The medical report says it is the only reported instance of the infestation so there is no need for spreading an alarm. It is interesting, if not coincidental, to note that the woman who had the infestation was described as spreading her washed clothes outside for drying and not ironing them before wearing them. The eRumor makes reference to that as well and it brings up the question of whether the warning was initiated by someone who knew of the lone case.

Some more recent versions of the story also include pictures of a couple of white worms that it says are the type that are infesting the breast. As is clear on the picture, however, it was taken by Michael Bohne of the U.S. Forestry service and is of the larva of the Asian longhorned beetle. It has nothing to do with any of the other stories.

Posted  6/13/06