The FDA has issued a warning for consumers to beware of a new scam involving products being sold online claiming to prevent or treat the Ebola virus. To date, there are no licenses vaccines against the disease, nor federally approved drugs to treat the deadly disease, although some positive results have been seen with the experimental drug Zmapp in treating two infected missionary workers now being cared for at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. At the same time it should be noted that all supplies of the drug are currently exhausted. The Food and Drug Administration also stress that “By law, dietary supplements cannot claim to prevent or cure disease, and any individuals promoting these unapproved and fraudulent products must take immediate action to correct or remove these claims or face potential FDA action.”
In the meantime the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes that although Ebola is ravaging populations in West Africa (principally Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea) it does not pose a significant risk to the American public. Unlike other viruses, Ebola is not a spread through the air, water, or food. It can only be transmitted through direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person, or with objects like needles that have been contaminated with the virus. If a person does not show any symptoms such as fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, and abnormal bleeding they are not contagious. While symptoms of the virus can appear anywhere from 2-21 days after exposure, the average is generally eight-10 days.
Unfortunately, there are always people ready to prey on the fears of the general public. Consumers who have seen these fraudulent products or false claims are encouraged to report them to the Food and Drug Administration by calling 1-866-300-4374 or 301-796-8240. For more information call 888-INFO-FDA.