'New Killer Insect' Hoax Goes Viral [Photos]

JohnThomas Didymus

A warning message about a "new killer insect" that spreads a deadly skin-disfiguring virus infection through skin contact has gone viral online. But the warning, which has been circulated widely online, causing panic among susceptible social media users, is a hoax.

The hoax warning, accompanied by alarming images, the stuff of a hypochondriac's nightmares, appears to have emerged on social media in January 2016.

It claims the emergence of a "new killer insect" that spreads a gruesomely disfiguring skin condition.

The purveyors of the online hoax display a photo of an insect, with a warning to viewers to never touch any creepy-crawly that looks remotely like the insect because touching it or attempting to kill it with bare hands infects with a deadly virus that spreads to the rest of the body in a matter of minutes!

The dreadfully diseased-looking human hand is covered with multiple holes supposedly caused by the virus infection.

Most viewers would immediately notice the striking similarity between the disfigured palm and structures on the back of the "new killer insect" that supposedly spreads the deadly viral infection.

The warning says that the insect and skin-disfiguring viral disease it spreads were first sighted in far, far away tropical India.

The message concludes with a plea typical of hoaxes.

"Be kind enough to forward this information to family and friends. Do remember to educate children never to kill an insect with bare hands or to allow its secretion to touch their body. This is an SOS Alert! Please share."

"If you ever see this insect, please don't try to kill it with your bare hands or touch it, this insect spreads virus to the place of bodily contact and circulates the entire human system in minutes, it was first sighted in India."

The insect shown in the photo has been identified as a giant water bug, a group of insects of the family Belostomatidae and order Hemiptera.

Giant water bugs are fairly large-sized insects found mostly in North America, South American, Northern Australia and East Asia in freshwater environments.

And giant water bugs do not transmit any known deadly virus diseases to humans. They are also not known to be harmful to humans, although if disturbed they may nip at humans, thus the name "toe-biters."

When shown images of irregularly pitted structures or clustered holes, many people report a feeling of disgust linked to the impression that "something might be living inside those holes."

It appears that the feeling of revulsion at the sight of irregularly pitted structures is a response due to a biologically conditioned fear of potentially life-threatening invasive pathological states.

But while some people with a tendency to exaggerated negative reaction to such structures have identified themselves as suffering a psychological disorder termed trypohobia, the alleged condition has not been given formal recognition in scientific literature and research.

[Image via noisecollusion/Wikimedia Commons]