We all get them: stupid email forwards. Misguided (or just plain idiotic) friends, relatives and coworkers forward us stuff that promises to be “hilarious” or “amazing,” when it’s actually so damn stupid, you want to reach through the computer and strangle them for sending it to you. These emails belong in the Stupid Email Hall of Fame. Today’s edition is another oldie but goodie. I was actually reminded of it the other day by a friend who received it from a concerned relative:
My name is Captain Abraham Sands of the Jacksonville, Florida Police Department. I have been asked by state and local authorities to write this email in order to get the word out to car drivers of a very dangerous prank that is occurring in numerous states.
Some person or persons have been affixing hypodermic needles to the underside of gas pump handles. These needles appear to be infected with HIV positive blood. In the Jacksonville area alone there have been 17 cases of people being stuck by these needles over the past five months. We have verified reports of at least 12 others in various states around the country.
It is believed that these may be copycat incidents due to someone reading about the crimes or seeing them reported on the television. At this point no one has been arrested and catching the perpetrator(s) has become our top priority.
Shockingly, of the 17 people who where stuck, eight have tested HIV positive and because of the nature of the disease, the others could test positive in a couple years.
Evidently the consumers go to fill their car with gas, and when picking up the pump handle get stuck with the infected needle. IT IS IMPERATIVE TO CAREFULLY CHECK THE HANDLE of the gas pump each time you use one. LOOK AT EVERY SURFACE YOUR HAND MAY TOUCH, INCLUDING UNDER THE HANDLE.
If you do find a needle affixed to one, immediately contact your local police department so they can collect the evidence.
PLEASE HELP US BY MAINTAINING A VIGILANCE AND BY FORWARDING THIS EMAIL TO ANYONE YOU KNOW WHO DRIVES. THE MORE PEOPLE WHO KNOW OF THIS THE BETTER PROTECTED WE CAN ALL BE.
Whoa, scary, right? Maybe if it were true. Of course, it’s not. Snopes and many other sites have debunked this one. There is no such person as Captain Abraham Sands, and Jacksonville is policed by a sheriff’s office, not a police department. There are no known cases of this ever happening. But the rumor was so pervasive, the Center for Disease control responded to it on their website:
I have read stories on the Internet about people getting stuck by needles in phone booth coin returns, movie theater seats, gas pump handles, and other places. One story said that CDC reported similar incidents about improperly discarded needles and syringes. Are these stories true?
CDC has received inquiries about a variety of reports or warnings about used needles left by HIV-infected injection drug users in coin return slots of pay phones, the underside of gas pump handles, and on movie theater seats. These reports and warnings have been circulated on the Internet and by e-mail and fax. Some reports have falsely indicated that CDC “confirmed” the presence of HIV in the needles. CDC has not tested such needles nor has CDC confirmed the presence or absence of HIV in any sample related to these rumors. The majority of these reports and warnings appear to have no foundation in fact.
CDC was informed of one incident in Virginia of a needle stick from a small-gauge needle (believed to be an insulin needle) in a coin return slot of a pay phone. The incident was investigated by the local police department. Several days later, after a report of this police action appeared in the local newspaper, a needle was found in a vending machine but did not cause a needle-stick injury.
Discarded needles are sometimes found in the community outside of health care settings. These needles are believed to have been discarded by persons who use insulin or are injection drug users. Occasionally the “public” and certain groups of workers (e.g., sanitation workers or housekeeping staff) may sustain needle-stick injuries involving inappropriately discarded needles. Needle-stick injuries can transfer blood and blood-borne pathogens (e.g., hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV), but the risk of transmission from discarded needles is extremely low.
CDC does not recommend testing discarded needles to assess the presence or absence of infectious agents in the needles. Management of exposed persons should be done on a case-by-case evaluation of (1) the risk of a blood-borne pathogen infection in the source and (2) the nature of the injury. Anyone who is injured from a needle stick in a community setting should contact their physician or go to an emergency room as soon as possible. The health care professional should then report the injury to the local or state health department. CDC is not aware of any cases where HIV has been transmitted by a needle-stick injury outside a health care setting.
There you have it! Pump your gas without fear!
Have you received something like this? Or does this email pale in comparison to some of the stupid crap you’ve received? If so, forward those dumb emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll mock and debunk (if necessary) these stupid emails every Wednesday.