Deaths From Soda Cans Contaminated With Rat Urine-Fiction!


Summary of eRumor:  
There are several versions of this eRumor.

The first is about a stock clerk at a business in Hawaii mysteriously dies of massive organ failure.  Subsequent investigation reveals that he contracted a virus because of rat or mouse droppings.  The writer of the email talks about another person who died and the Centers for Disease Control concluded that it was from dried rat urine on the top of a soft drink can.  The email references the hantavirus.

The second is about a woman on a boat who drinks from soda cans contaminated with rat urine.
She dies of a different disease called leptospirosis.   The location of the death varies from story to story.

The Truth:

While there are understandable health concerns over rodent urine and droppings, neither of these stories has been substantiated.

There is no record of anyone dying in Hawaii as described.

The Pali Momi medical center is probably a reference to the Kapi‘olani Medical Center at Pali Momi, which is on Oahu, not Maui, so it isn’t likely the victim was “rushed” to a different island for his emergency to be handled.

Additionally, there is not documentation that anyone has died from contamination on a soft drink can and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has no record of the story described.

It’s possible that the story about the stock clerk arises from genuine concern over what is called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, this condition can happen in a human and is usually from the person breathing fresh droppings of deer mice (plus cotton rats and rice rats in the southeastern states and the white-footed mouse in the Northeast).

An outbreak of this condition occurred in 1993 in the Four Corners area of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah from which some otherwise healthy young people died.

The CDC emphasizes that it is not spread by ordinary house mice or common rats.

The condition mentioned in the second eRumor, leptospirosis., is different from the hanta virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, leptospirosis is normally the result of human exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals.

Updated 6/8/05

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Version #1

Here’s one more thing to worry about!!


A stock clerk was sent to clean up a storeroom at their Maui, Hawaii location. When he got back, he was complaining that the storeroom was really filthy, and that he had noticed dried mouse or rat droppings in some areas.

Couple of days later, he started feeling like he was coming down with stomach flu, achy joints, headache, and he started throwing up.

He went to bed and never really got up. Within two days he was so ill and weak. His blood sugar count was down to 66 and his face and eyeballs were yellow. He was rushed to the emergency at Pali Momi, where they said he was suffering from massive organ failure! He died shortly before midnight.

None of us would have ever made the connection between his job and his death, but the doctors specifically asked if he had been in a warehouse or exposed to dried rat or mouse droppings at any time.

They said there is a virus much like Hanta virus) that lives in dried rat and mouse droppings. Once dried, these droppings are like dust, and can easily be or ingested if a person is not careful to wash their hands and face thoroughly, or wear protective gear.

An autopsy was conducted to verify the doctors’ suspicions. This is why it is extremely important to ALWAYS carefully rinse off the tops of any canned sodas or foods, and wipe off pasta packaging, cereal boxes, etc.

Almost everything you buy in a supermarket was stored in a warehouse at one Time or another, and stores themselves often have rodents.

Most of us remember to wash vegetables and fruit but never think of boxes and cans. The ugly truth is……..even the most modern, upper-class, super store has rats and mice. And their Warehouse most assuredly does.

Whenever you buy any canned soft drink, please make sure that you wash the top with running water and soap, or drink with a straw.

A family friend’s friend died after drinking a can of soda!

A brief investigation by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta discovered the cause. The top was encrusted with dried rat’s urine which is toxic and obviously lethal!! Canned drinks and other food stuffs are stored in warehouses and containers that are usually infested with rodents and then get transported to the retail outlets without being
properly cleaned.

Please forward this message to the people you care about.

Version #2

 Subject: FW: Toxic soda cans

This incident happened recently in North Texas . We need to be even more careful everywhere. A woman went boating one Sunday, taking with her some cans of coke which she put in the refrigerator of the boat. On Monday she was taken into Intensive Care Unit and on Wednesday she died. The autopsy revealed a certain Leptospirose caused by the can of Coke from which she
had drunk, not using a glass. A test showed that the can was infected by dried rat urine and hence the disease Leptospirosis. Rat urine contains toxic and deadly substances. It is highly recommended to wash thoroughly the upper part of soda cans before drinking out of them as they have been stocked in warehouses and transported straight to the shops without being cleaned. A study at NYCU showed that the tops of soda cans are more contaminated than public toilets (i.e., full of germs and bacteria). So
wash them with water before putting them to the mouth to avoid any kind of fatal accident.

Please forward this message to all the people you care about. (I JUST DID!).