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X-ray shows cockroach in Kenyan patient’s chest? No, old hoax – the original image has been online since 2010

IN SHORT: Viral social media posts claiming an X-ray shows a cockroach in the chest of a Kenyan patient are a version of an old hoax from 2012.

An X-ray image of what appears to be a giant cockroach inside a human chest has been shared on social media in Kenya. 

It’s been posted with claims that it is an X-ray of a patient in a Kenyan hospital who was told to travel to Singapore for treatment, in what is a veiled criticism of Kenya’s public health system. 

“In a Kenya government hospital, a patient was x-rayed and was told that there was a live cockroach in his chest. ‘You will have to go to Singapore for treatment.’ The patient went to Singapore and was told that the cockroach is not in his chest but inside the x-ray machine,” reads one post on Twitter.

The image has been widely shared on Facebook here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

But is the X-ray image of a cockroach in a person's chest real? We investigated.


Original image without cockroach

A reverse image search revealed that the original version of this X-ray did not include ​​a cockroach. 

It appears the original image was published on, an online peer-reviewed radiology resource compiled by radiologists. 

The article which included the image is titled: Normal contours of the cardiomediastinum on chest radiography.” It was first published in 2010.

The photo caption reads: “Chest x-ray demonstrate normal cardiomediastinal outlines. No pulmonary or pleural mass identified. There is a minor degree of hyperinflation, which may represent a degree of underlying COPD.”

Old hoax from 2012, new image

The claim of an X-ray revealing a cockroach in a person's chest isn't new. Africa Check debunked a version of the claim in 2019, which said a cockroach had been found in the chest of a Zimbabwean patient. 

This older version used an original X-ray of the chest of Marilyn Monroe, the US actor who became famous in the 1950s. 

Monroe's chest X-rays were taken in 1954. A set of three X-rays was sold at auction in 2010 for US$45,000. It appears that one of these was used for the earlier hoax.

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