Ebola medications sold online are ineffective, and could even be dangerous, according to a new warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Ebola deaths in western Africa have now passed 1,000, with no end in sight for the epidemic.
Officials from the FDA stated they received several complaints from consumers of Ebola remedies sold on websites. Some claims were focused on products claiming to prevent the disease, while others were unsubstantiated cures.
"There are no approved vaccines, drugs, or investigational products specifically for Ebola available for purchase on the Internet. By law, dietary supplements cannot claim to prevent or cure disease," the Food and Drug Administration reported in a press release.
Individuals and corporations manufacturing and selling herbal supplements with claims the substances prevent or cure disease are required by law to cease from such statements or face FDA prosecution.
The first Ebola outbreak took place in 1976, near the Ebola River in Zaire, currently known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The disease spreads over the population of the region every year, although the means of transmission between people remains a mystery. The virus is not water-borne, nor is it carried through food, according to researchers. Contamination routes are only effective for the virus between body fluids, including open wounds and needles.
Ebola has never been detected in the United States, although a pair of healthcare workers who tested positive for the disease were transported to the country for treatment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined the risk of Ebola in the United States is low. However, every time a new disease makes the news, a wave of new supposed cures and preventatives are introduced for sale on the Internet. The FDA monitors the products available for sale online, and takes appropriate action when needed.
Viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) can develop in those victims infected with the Ebola virus. This disease can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, including nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain and abdominal bleeding.
Just over 3,000 have been strickened so far by the virus in affected regions of Africa. One-third of those victims have perished from the disease.
New treatments and preventatives for Ebola are being developed and tested on animals, but have not yet been shown to be effective and safe for general use.
One experimental drug for Ebola, Zmapp, is currently being tested on the two victims who are being treated for the disease in the United States. The potential new medicine is based on a form of cloned immune cell.