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HOAX -'Breast Larvae Infestation From Undergarments'

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Circulating message that includes an image depicting an unusual rash on a woman's breast, claims that the rash harboured live larvae that were feeding off her fat, tissue, and milk canals.

Brief Analysis

The message is a hoax that has circulated in various formats since at least 2003. I could find no credible information about a skin rash like the one depicted in the circulating image. The breast rash 'photograph' featured in the message is almost certainly a fake created by combining two or more images in a graphics manipulation program. The supposed rash is very similar in appearance to a lotus seedpod. It is likely that a photograph of such a seedpod was merged with a photograph of a woman's breast to create the fake 'rash' image.



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Breast Rash Hoax Facebook Post

(Submitted, July 2006)

Be prepared but read story first. Makes you glad us men don't have boobs

Don't look at the pictures just after eating something, this is truly revolting but it's a huge warning!!!!!!!!!!!!!


After anthropologist Susan McKinley came back home from an expedition in South America, she noticed a very strange rash on her left breast.

Nobody knew what it was and she dismissed it believing that the holes would leave in time.

Upon her return she decided to see a doctor after she started developing intense pains. The doctor, not knowing the exact severity of the disease, gave her antibiotics and special creams. As time lapsed the pain did not subside and her left breast became more inflamed and started to bleed.

She decided to bandage her sores, however as Susan's pain grew more intense she decided to seek help from a more certified doctor. Dr. Lynch could not diagnose the infection and told Susan to seek the aid of one of his colleagues who specializes in dermatology. Unfortunately, the doctor was on vacation.

She waited for two weeks and finally was able to reach the dermatologist.

Sadly, a life changing event was about to unfold during her appointment. To Miss McKinley's surprise, after she removed the bandages, they found larvae growing and squirming within the pores and sores of her breast.

What she didn't know was that the holes were in fact, deeper than she had originally thought, for these larvae were feeding off the fat, tissue, and even milk canals of her breast.

Our undergarments are made in different countries all over the world. They sit in boxes and go through many hands and exchanges before we purchase them for ourselves.


Please make it a habit from this point forward to wash your just-purchased undergarments or ANY garments before wearing them.

Breast Rash

Detailed Analysis

This circulating "warning" claims that anthropologist Susan McKinley developed an unusual rash on her breast after a trip to South America. According to the message, which arrives with a picture of the supposed rash, doctors subsequently found that live larvae were growing in the breast. Versions of the message have been circulating since at least 2003, first via email and more lately via social media.

However, the breast rash "photograph" featured in the message is almost certainly a fake created by combining two or more images in a graphics manipulation program. A closer inspection of if the image reveals a strong similarity between the "rash" and a lotus seedpod. The images below clearly illustrate this similarity:

Part of Breast Rash Image          Close up of Lotus Seed Pod
Part of Breast Rash Image                           Close up of Lotus Seed Pod

More Lotus Seedpods
More Lotus Seedpods                           Lotus Seedpod

Although larvae infestation of the breasts is possible (as discussed below), genuine images of such infestations have no resemblance to the rash supposedly depicted in the message. In fact, I could find no genuine photograph of any sort of skin condition resembling the one included in this "warning" email. If true, such an unusual breast rash would surely have been published in medical journals and websites along with more information about the condition.

Moreover, I could find no credible information that substantiates references in the message to an anthropologist named "Susan McKinley". It seems probable that the story of this hapless scientist's encounter with such nasty breast beasties is a work of fiction concocted solely to go with the unusual picture. notes that the picture was published online in other contexts as far back as 2003 and was only later associated with apparent larvae infestation and "Susan McKinley".

Some versions of the warning include a photograph attributed to Michael Bohne that supposedly shows some of the larvae extracted from the infested breast. However, an Internet search on the photographer's name reveals that the same photograph is displayed on the Forestry Images website and depicts the larvae of the Asian longhorned beetle. Thus, the picture has no connection with the breast rash image or the illusive "Miss McKinley" and has apparently been added only to enhance the perceived shock value of the warning message.

Other versions of the message also include a graphic video that ostensibly depicts larvae being removed from "Miss McKinley's" breast. Although the video is genuine, it has no relation whatsoever to the breast rash image or the spurious claims made in the message. The video was originally published online as part of a 2004 BMC Surgery journal article that describes a case of Furuncular myiasis of the breast caused by the larvae of the Tumbu fly (Cordylobia anthropophaga). The patient in the video is in fact a 70-year-old woman living in Nigerian who had fourteen larvae removed from her right breast. The video footage shows no evidence of the lotus-seed like rash and it clearly does not depict the same woman featured in the hoax message picture. (The video is available for viewing via a link within the BMC Surgery article).

Cordylobia anthropophaga eggs can be deposited in soil or wet and dirty clothing that is hung out to dry, and the article advises that good personal hygiene and ironing clothes before wearing can be effective preventative measures against infestation. While eggs can be present in soiled clothing, their presence in brand new, store bought clothing seems fairly unlikely. The journal article notes:
C. anthropophaga is a large, robust brownish yellow fly found widely throughout tropical Africa. It deposits 100–300 eggs on soil polluted with animal excrement or on clothing saturated with perspiration and soiled diapers. After hatching, the larvae can stay alive for seven to twenty days, while attached to contaminated articles and clothing or the soil. On contact with the skin of man or other vertebrates they easily penetrate the skin.
Given the mode of transmission described, older clothing that has been directly exposed to the fly and poorly laundered is probably a lot more likely to harbour the larvae than new and unworn store-bought underwear.

That said, the message's advice to wash new garments before wearing them is not without merit. New clothing often has a chemical finish designed to make the clothes look and smell better in the shop or prevent mildew or pest contamination during shipping. These chemicals may cause skin irritation in some people. Possible factory or storeroom contamination by insects or rodents and unhygienic handling by other shoppers are further reasons to wash new garments before wearing, especially with regard to babies or those with allergies or sensitive skin.

Overall, however, this "warning" message contains false and misleading information and forwarding it to others will serve no good purpose.

Last updated: July 24, 2015
First published: July 26, 2006
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

Snopes: Breast Rash
Furuncular myiasis of the breast caused by the larvae of the Tumbu fly (Cordylobia anthropophaga)
Asian longhorned beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) @ Forestry Images
Howstuffworks "Why do some clothing items have a tag saying to wash the item before wearing?"

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