Wednesday, March 22, 2017

‘Viral’ message on paracetamol a hoax

The message said the pill had Machupo virus; but doctors say viruses do not survive long enough to cause illness

A viral message on social media that advises against the use of a particular type of paracetamol, a common pain-relieving medication, is a hoax, experts say.

Urging that it be shared, the message reads, “Be careful not to take the paracetamol that comes written P/500. It is a new, very white and shiny paracetamol, doctors prove to contain ‘Machupo’ virus, considered one of the most dangerous viruses in the world. And with high mortality rate.” The Machupo virus causes Bolivian haemorrhagic fever, zoonotic disease, that is spread by a mouse species indigenous to Bolivia. It does not have a cure and carries a significant risk of mortality.

Experts say there have been no cases of Machupo viruses recorded in India. “If the message were true, there would have been outbreak in India of a massive scale given the paracetamol consumption here,” said Suman Kapur, professor at BITS Pilani’s Hyderabad campus. The hoax message has been doing the rounds for at least two weeks now. It was widely circulated in Indonesia, where the health authorities had to intervene to quash the rumour. Though Dr. Kapur says viruses can survive on tablets, it is a question how they can get into a production facility. Clinical experts say viruses often do not survive long enough to cause illness. “A virus needs a host to survive and multiply. Many of them do not survive for long outside their native host,” said infectious disease specialist Suneetha Nareddy.


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