We recently wrote about a couple of news items that suggested that the “Chupa-Chupa” – meaning “Suck-Suck”, alleged balls of light that burned and sucked blood – had returned to terrorize northern Brazilians. Two young girls were even hospitalized with “serious burns”, and we noted how “a confirmed contemporary case of burn victims of the Chupa-Chupa would be something relevant”.
Good news, everyone! Contrary to my pessimism, we have some news, and it seems the case has been solved. José Medeiros and a friend followed the clues and did the basic thing: they contacted the local authorities, including the health secretary of the city of Belterra, Ana Cláudia Tavares.
The secretary informed them that the news was just a rumor. She visited the hospital after reading about the news, and the staff there also confirmed it was only a tall tale. Well, not only: they also found that behind this tale about the return of the Chupa-Chupa are attacks from real suckers… known as bats.
Apparently, the two girls in question were actually attacked by bats. Those kind of attacks are becoming more common recently, as the habitat of the creatures is being destroyed by heavier tourism and expanding urbanization.
I also spoke by phone, on a lead from Medeiros, with a local from Maguari who confirmed there is not anything like a panic going on. Actually, the local told there was nothing happening up there.
This was, all suggests, just a hoax circulated by a free lance journalist to the local newspapers, including Diário do Pará, that just published the story without checking anything.
If a confirmed, contemporary case of Chupa-Chupa victims would be intriguing and warrant a more worried look at the original 1977-78 wave, what does a confirmed, contemporary hoax case of Chupa-Chupa panic warrants?
It does, at least, evidence once more that the phenomenon has a lot to do with psychosocial elements. Even if there were anomalous things happening back then, we already knew that the panic was also fueled by heavy sensationalist media exploitation. Hundreds of news items about the panic, including even several reported deaths, even when published on local newspapers, weren’t necessarily even close to the truth.
In fact, there’s no confirmed case of “death by Chupa-Chupa”, neither back then, nor nowadays.
[With thanks to José Medeiros]
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