Did you know that Singapore was home to several pig farms nearly 50 years ago? Did you also know that these pigs led grown men to fear for the state of their genitals?
No, the pigs in Singapore weren’t known for their appetite for human penises but following the mass vaccination of over 55, 000 pigs in July 1967, hundreds of Singaporean men became convinced that consuming the vaccinated pigs would lead to penile shrinkage, the retraction of the penis into the abdomen and eventually, death.
This widespread panic came to be known as the ‘Koro epidemic.’
Despite official announcements and repeated assurances that Koro refers to a purely psychological fear and that there is no real correlation between the consumption of vaccinated pigs and the retraction of the male sexual organ and certain death, the sale of pork in markets and restaurants nearly ceased and the public gave in to mass hysteria.
The subsequent “dark” fall of 1967 saw over 80 men frantically crowding government hospitals and dispensaries each and every day over the course of the “outbreak.”
Some men sought relief from home remedies and resorted to wearing wooden clamps and strings around their penises – a method that only damaged the organ instead of helping.
Although normalcy soon returned to our little island, the ‘Koro epidemic’ is a great example of how quickly unfounded rumours can spread, and also how stupidity can find strength in numbers.