Rumours of flesh-eating bananas in Mozambique have sparked a plummet in the sale of the fruit, prompting the health minister Friday to reassure people of its safety. "From the work conducted by the Ministries of Agriculture, Health and Trade and Industry, it was concluded that there is no record of entry of any infected banana in the country," according to a joint statement.
An email and text message hoax warning people against eating bananas for the next three weeks went viral as people feared being infected by necrotising fasciitis, or skin-eating disease. The bacteria can destroy skin, fat and tissue covering the muscles.
The messages also advised people to see a doctor if they developed a fever after eating the killer fruit. Especially bananas from KwaZulu-Natal province in neighbouring South Africa carried the virus, according to the hoax.
Banana sales in the capital Maputo fell sharply despite the fact that Mozambique does not import bananas from its neighbour. In a separate statement South Africa's agriculture ministry denounced the messages as a hoax. It strongly advised against burning the skin around the supposed infection, as suggested in the message.