FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show A Human Heart After Eating Pork?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

A picture shared on Instagram purportedly shows a human heart after eating pork.

Verdict: False

The image shows a pig heart infected with a parasitic disease called cysticercosis, according to medical experts.

Fact Check:

The image appears to show a heart with various white cysts covering it. Text included with the photo claims it is “The heart of a person who consumes pork.”

A reverse image search revealed the image was originally posted on Instagram in July 2018 with the caption, “Parasite paradise #porcine cysticercosis.” Porcine cysticercosis is “an infection of pigs caused by the larval stage of Taenia solium, a tapeworm that causes taeniosis in humans,” according to a 2010 study published in the scientific journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The study explains the disease is common in pigs from the developing world and “poses a serious public health risk and causes significant economic losses in pig production.”

Several months later in October 2018, the Instagram account “Anatomiae” shared the same picture of the heart with a Portuguese-language caption that reads, “See this rare case of cysticercosis in a pig heart.” The account is associated with Dr. Romulo Oliveira and Dr. Ygor Minassa, self-described “Physicians, Vascular Surgeons and Teachers,” according to their website.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Anatomia é 😷 (@anatomiae)

The end of the picture’s caption warns, “This post was shared on Facebook with wrong information saying that it was the heart of a person who eats a lot of pork. Beware of fake news!” (RELATED: Does This Image Show A Heart-Shaped Pond In Zimbabwe?)

In an emailed statement to Check Your Fact, Dr. John Stulak, professor of surgery in the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Mayo Clinic, confirmed “the picture is almost certainly not a human heart” and “resembles a pig heart.”

A similar photo of a pig heart with cysts as a result of cysticercosis can be seen in a 2019 journal article titled, “Taenia solium Cysticercosis in Sub-Saharan Africa: Perspectives for a Better Control.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes on its website that while cysticercosis can occur in humans, they “do not get cysticercosis by eating undercooked pork.”

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter

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