Rumor: Dirty soda cans cause deadly diseases

Is dirt and bacteria found on soda cans causing deadly diseases?

Can dirt, bacteria and rat urine found on aluminum soda cans really cause deadly diseases, including leptospirosis?

UNCONFIRMED: Unwashed soda cans themselves haven't been proven to cause deadly diseases.

Fortunately for the ever-growing population of soda drinkers, cold, hard surfaces don't hold bacteria for long and the organisms likely are rejected by aluminum, according to retired microbiologist Dr. David Hentges and Answerbag.com.

Ongoing hoax

An email has been circulated over the years — most recently in June 2012 — stating that a woman out boating drank Coca-Cola from a can, was hospitalized a day later, then died later in the week. According to the email (read it here in its various forms), the woman died from leptospirosis. The email goes on to say that the disease was caused by dried rat urine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diseased animals such as rodents may indeed carry bacteria in their urine that cause leptospirosis.

Yet the widely circulated email about the woman dying from leptospirosis after drinking soda from a can is a hoax. The Leptospirosis Information Center dismissed the warning as fake, as found on Hoax-Slayer. A search of news stories reporting the woman's death turned up no results.

According to About.com and the rumor-debunking website Snopes.com, the details continue to change as well, similar to the game Telephone. One version says the woman was from Belgium; another says she was from Texas. An early iteration of the email claims a study was conducted in Spain showing that the tops of soda cans are "more contaminated than public toilets"; another claims the study was done at "NYCU." According to Yahoo!, the acronym NYCU is shared by New York City Underground, News You Can Use and North Yorkshire Credit Union, and none claimed credit for the announcement.

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