Coke Can Diseases Hoax

Another scary e-mail is circulating now. This one came from my sister in Dallas warning me that if I don't wipe off the lid before I drink from a Coke can I could die of Leptospirosis. I never wipe the can. Lucky for me my sister never reads the whole e-mail.

Like most people who just get scared and pass it on. The e-mail says rats can urinate on coke cans during production at the plant. Eventually that urine can develop into a virus called Leptospirosis. So, when you pop the top and taste the can, you could be days away from death.

It turns out the "Coke Can Disease" e-mail has been circulating since 1988 but there have never been any such cases reported ever. And the CDC describes this as a classic hoax buster, an urban legend.

We went to Dr. David Hentges for more on the lethal rat urine warning and discovered that in theory you could get sick if you pop the top right after the rat did his thing there but time is on our side. "The organisms are very susceptible to drying. So if they are passed on the urine of an animal and the urine dries on the surface of a coke can, for example, the organisms will die right away. Not only that, but the organisms do not like metals," said Dr. David Hentges a retired Microbiologist.

Dr. Hentges added from a public health standpoint, it makes good sense to wipe off any surface before you drink from it but if you forget and drink straight from the can, the calories are likely more dangerous than the risk of tasting Leptospirosis on the lid.