My family is in week three of a nasty battle with H1N1, or Swine flu. The docs don’t know for sure without testing which bug it is, but they’re saying that most of the patients with these symptoms have swine flu, not the usual seasonal flu.
All of my kids except one have had it, but so far, Her Hotness and I have stayed clean. We’re hoping it stays that way. It’s draining our schools and churches here, with health officials surprised that it is hitting so hard, so early in the season. That means you have a lot of people sick, worried about getting sick, and ready to pay to avoid it.
And of course, that only means one thing: it’s a scammer’s market ready for the reaping!
Are we appalled? Yes. Are we surprised? We are not. Check out the story:
Federal officials have warned promoters of more than 140 products sold over the Internet about fraudulent claims that they can prevent, treat or diagnose swine flu.
Bogus products include devices and sprays that claim to sterilize the air or surfaces, and dietary supplements claiming to boost the immune system. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it even has found fake Tamiflu being sold online without a prescription.
Want to have a look at some of the scammy products? Just Google “swine flu” and look at the sponsored search results. Chances are good that you’ll spot the products making false claims. Check out Microsan, for instance, at stop-h1n1.com. See the fear-stoking headlines at the top? They’re designed to prod you into a quick purchase before your critical thinking skills kick in.
The problem is bad enough that the FDA created a Swine Flu consumer fraud detection team, which spotted about 10 new product a day being promoted. All of them were making untested, unproven claims, and some of the products were downright dangerous. Check out the useful warnings at the FDA:
On May 1, 2009, FDA and the FTC warned that consumers who purchase products which claim to protect against or treat the 2009 H1N1 virus, but are not approved by FDA for the treatment or prevention of influenza, are risking their health and the health of their families.
These fraudulent products come in all varieties and could include dietary supplements, medical foods, or products that claim to prevent or cure the 2009 H1N1 influenza.
FDA announced that it has initiated an aggressive strategy to identify, investigate, and take regulatory or criminal action against individuals and businesses that wrongfully promote purported 2009 H1N1 influenza products in an attempt to take advantage of the current flu public health emergency.
Full disclosure: we won’t be testing any of these products. Maybe we could get Steve to inject or ingest an unknown substance purchased online, but it won’t be me. The flu sucks, but so do the potential hazards of swallowing something made in Albania with misspelled English words on the label.
For real information on Swine Flu, look to the Centers for Disease Control. Wash your hands often and don’t make out with strangers on the bus or subway without a surgical mask.