Last updated: October 18, 2012
First published: October 18, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer
According to messages currently circulating via Twitter, Facebook and email, a recent outbreak of gonorrhea among students at San Diego State University has been attributed to a new airborne strain of the disease. Many of the messages link to what, at first glance, appears to be a legitimate news report about the outbreak. The report claims that medical investigators fighting the outbreak are reluctant to approach the "Hot Zone" for fear of catching the disease themselves so they have recruited students to go in to collect samples.
Not surprisingly however, the claims in the messages - and the "news report" are utter nonsense. The report was first published on the satirical website The MQ, and was never intended to be taken seriously. As with other stories published on the site, the information in the report is fictional. A disclaimer on the site explains:
The Muir Quarterly®, heretofore referred to as The MQ®, is a satirical newspaper intended to be read solely for entertainment purposes. All names used within any associated content are entirely fictional, with the exception of satirization. Some content may be unsuitable for children; reader supervision is actively encouraged in all applicable cases.
Thus, the story is just a harmless leg-pull and would easily be recognized as such when read within the context of The MQ website. And, of course, many users have spread the story simply for its entertainment value. Nevertheless, at least a few recipients have apparently taken the story as true and have spread the information in a misguided attempt to warn others.
And, for the record, gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease and does not and cannot spread through the air.
Gonorrhea Now Spread Through Air at San Diego State University
The MQ - About
Gonorrhea - CDC Fact Sheet