Fake News: Zika Virus NOT Found In Recent Shipment Of Bananas; CDC NOT Warning Of Safety Concerns

Hoax Alert

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Zika Virus NOT Found In Recent Shipment Of Bananas; CDC NOT Warning Of Safety Concerns

Did the CDC warn over safety concerns after Zika virus was found in a recent shipment of bananas from Ecuador? No, that's not true: a site that is part of a known network of fake news sites made that claim in an article published in 2017 and it went viral (pun intended) again in 2019. In reality the CDC has reported only 1 case of Zika infection in the U.S. this year and that was from a traveler who got infected abroad.

The story originated from an article (archived here) on Breaking 13 News where it was published on August 1, 2018 under the title "Zika Virus Found In Recent Shipment Of Bananas; CDC Is Warning Of Safety Concerns". It opened:

Public health officials used their strongest language to date in a warning about a Zika outbreak in the United States, after 2 million bananas shipped from Ecuador to the U.S. were found to be contaminated with the Zika Virus. Reports are confirming that 125 people across the U.S. have been hospitalized or admitted to the E.R. for symptoms confirmed to be Zika.

However the website of the CDC reports only one infection this year and it had nothing to do with infected bananas:

Provisional Data* as of May 1, 2019
Zika virus disease is a nationally notifiable condition. Cases are reported to CDC by state, territorial, and local health departments using standard case definitions. This webpage contains provisional data reported to ArboNET for 2019.

US States
1 Zika virus disease case reported†
1 case in a traveler returning from an affected area
US Territories
0 Zika virus disease cases reported†

For 2017 (when the story was originally published) the CDC reported more cases but they were also mostly travelers returning from affected areas and had nothing to do with bananas.

US States
452 symptomatic Zika virus disease cases reported†
437 cases in travelers returning from affected areas
7 cases acquired through presumed local mosquito-borne transmission in Florida (N=2) and Texas (N=5)
8 cases acquired through other routes, including sexual transmission (N=7), and laboratory transmission (N=1)
US Territories
666 Zika virus disease cases reported†
1 case in a traveler returning from an affected area
665 cases acquired through presumed local mosquito-borne transmission
0 cases acquired through other routes‡

The website Breaking13News.com is part of a larger network of sites all hosted on the same webserver:

  • actionnews3.com
  • dailybuzzlive.com
  • dailyviralbuzz.com
  • news4ktla.com
  • news4local.com
  • now8news.com
  • realstonedtimes.com
  • straightstoned.com
  • theracketreport.com

Many of these sites have a history of publishing false information. Don't fall for it!


  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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