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Pork Brain Death

Horrifying image illustrates the dangers of pork consumption.

Published Sep 9, 2014

(Disturbing image warning)

Claim:   Postmortem images of a woman's parasite-infested brain should serve as a warning not to eat pork.


REAL PICTURES, INACCURATE DESCRIPTION


Examples:   [Collected via Facebook and Twitter, September 2014]






 

Origins:   In early August 2014, a Facebook post went viral, featuring a lengthy and horrifying claim and image warning against the dangers of eating pork. The picture was said to be of patient's exposed brain during a postmortem "surgery," revealing an unsettling parasitic infection contracted by the patient by their consumption of pork.

Among the claims made in the heavily-circulated Facebook post above are that eating pork impedes an individual's "third eye," and that religions forbid the practice due to rampant disease. (The bacon-worshipping internet at large seems to be, at the very least, immune to the thirty terrible diseases cataloged in the post.)

Scary claims aside, the image above has not been accurately described in its latest journey across the social web. As we explained in a previous article, the picture at the top of this page has been making its way around the internet since at least 2002. We've seen the condition of the patient above ascribed to pork consumption, the eating of sushi, tapeworms, roundworms, and other parasites. None of these are an accurate description of the event depicted.

We note in that earlier article:


As we learned at the time from sources involved with the patient's treatment, the pictures date from October 2002 and are photographs of a man in his 70s who was suffering from an unusual form of cancer which had eaten away at the upper portion of his skull and scalp, but who had not sought any medical treatment because the condition was not causing him pain. The man was brought to the trauma center at Stanford University Hospital (where the photographs shown here were taken) by San Mateo County paramedics who had been summoned to the scene after the man was involved in a minor automobile accident and who found him in his car in the condition pictured.

 

While the image above and claims about pork's effect on the brain are wholly inaccurate, there is a small risk of contracting a rather serious parasitic disease from pork products. According to the CDC, about 20 people contract trichinosis each year in the United States. A small fraction of those sickened experience symptoms affecting the central nervous system; but even then, those effects would not resemble the image above.

Last updated:   9 September 2014

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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