Beware of toxic pumpkins with deadly vapors-Fiction!
Beware of a Pumpkin Virus Harmful to Humans-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:Allegedly from a Ph.D.at the University of Vermont, this warning says that the 2006 pumpkin crop in New England in the U.S. is infected with a virus that results in toxic fumes coming from the pumpkin when it is cut open. The email claims that a woman in Vermont is in a coma because of having passed out and hit her head after being overcome by pumpkin fumes. The virus is allegedly called "squash mosaic Como virus."
The Truth:This email is a hoax.
There is no deadly squash virus spreading through New England that affects the health of humans. There is no documented report of anyone being overcome by fumes or in a coma.
There are viruses that affect various plants that are called comoviruses including Squash mosaic comovirus. It's a scourge to farmers who don't want their crops infected with it but does not result in the kinds of effects that are described in the eRumor such as toxic fumes. In fact, according to Celeste Welty, an entomologist at Ohio State (the virus is spread by insects) some farmers cash in on the infected pumpkins because the virus can cause unique designs or bumps to appear on the pumpkins, which are attractive to some customers.
Last updated 10/4/06
A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:
RE: Friendly Halloween Warning
If you care about the safety of your family, read this and pass it on. This was verified by my independent lab study in Burlington, VT.
A rare botanical disease has infested this year’s pumpkin crop in New England. The virus is called squash mosaic Como virus and once it infects a pumpkin it poisons the seeds inside to the point where they emit toxic fumes when the pumpkin is cut open. In close quarters these fumes can cause headaches, nausea, or even cause a person to black out.
One innocent mom in Vermont became a victim when she was trying to carve a pumpkin with her children. The fumes got to her and she passed out, bumping her head on the kitchen table. She remains hospitalized in a coma as I write this. Her name is Jean Tierney and she has four young children. Luckily the kids are still too short to have their faces above the hole in the pumpkin. Please, please pray for her and pass on this warning.
This is a serious. Make sure you carve your pumpkin outside this year or at least in an extremely well ventilated area.
Ronda Shoemaker, PHD
University of Vermont