Agencies warn Africans over bogus Ebola cures

Panic over Ebola has the makers of dietary supplements aggressively targeting Africans, claiming to have a cure for the lethal virus.

Late this week, both the World Health Organization and the United States Food and Drug Administration issued strong warnings about false Ebola cures. The latter threatened American companies with penalties if they continue making such claims…

Earlier this week, a W.H.O. expert panel ruled it ethical to try some experimental drugs to fight this outbreak; some supplement makers have implied that ruling constituted permission for use of their products, though a top W.H.O. official emphasized that it did not.

The hustlers who specialize in the class of medical alternatives guaranteed to be nothing more than a hustle – take this as an invitation to flood the market of fear with so-called wonder cures.

While discussing the shipment to Liberia of an experimental drug the panel did endorse, ZMapp, Nigeria’s health minister, Onyebuchi Chukwu, said an unidentified Nigerian scientist living overseas had arranged for Nigeria to get a different experimental medicine, according to Nigerian news outlets. They identified it as NanoSilver, a supplement offered by the Natural Solutions Foundation, which said that it contains microscopic silver particles, although, as a food supplement, it is not tested by regulatory agencies. Silver kills some microbes on surfaces and in wounds, but it can be toxic and is not F.D.A.-approved for systemic use against viruses…

ZMapp is a set of antibodies made by the Mapp company of San Diego. Only a few doses exist, and the first two were given to American health workers who contracted Ebola in Liberia and are now hospitalized in Atlanta.

NanoSilver is for sale on the foundation’s website alongside hemp oil, ear candles, chocolate and “mental clarity packs.”

Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, an assistant director general of the W.H.O., said that testing promising treatments “doesn’t mean that any crazy idea that people have — things that have barely been tested in anything — will now be brought to Africa to test on patients. This is absolutely out of the question…”

Since the outbreak started, many rumored cures have swept West Africa. A popular Nigerian rumor is that bathing in or drinking saltwater is protective. Bags of “blessed Ebola cure salt” are for sale.

While bathing in saltwater is harmless, drinking large amounts of it is not. The W.H.O. said two Nigerians have died of it.

Medical hustles abound in every culture in direct proportion to the segment of the public still stuck into religion and superstition. Poverty is another quality creating an open door to snake oil salesmen. If your nation has a significant number of politicians afraid of science and education it’s all the more likely that 14th Century solutions will take hold of the hopes and prayers of ignorant folk.

The placebo effect is next to useless on a virus as deadly as Ebola. So, miracle cures, amazing remissions, aren’t likely. Just more dead – after being drained of every penny they could come up with.

About these ads

9 comments

  1. Hourglass

    “Experts worry Ebola could mutate to spread by air” http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/experts-worry-ebola-could-mutate-to-spread-by-air-1.2003633 “The unprecedented spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa may be pushing the world towards a viral disaster, a commentary published in Friday’s New York Times suggests.” Meanwhile: Cuba’s health ministry said Friday it is sending more than 160 health workers to help stop the raging Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, providing a much-needed injection of medical expertise in a country where health workers are in short supply. World Health Organization chief Dr. Margaret Chan said the agency was extremely grateful for the help. “If we are going to go to war with Ebola, we need the resources to fight,” she said. “This will make a significant difference in Sierra Leone.” http://www.politico.com/story/2014/09/cuba-ebola-outbreak-sierra-leone-110886.html

    • So it goes

      An international research team analyzed about a hundred Ebola virus genomes from 78 patients in Sierra Leone who had been diagnosed with the disease in late May to mid June and discovered more than 300 genetic changes that make the 214 Ebola virus genomes distinct from the viral genomes tied to previous Ebola outbreaks – also that over 50 changes had occurred since the start of the 2014 outbreak in August, suggesting the virus is in fact mutating. “Genomic surveillance elucidates Ebola virus origin and transmission during the 2014 outbreak” http://www.sciencemag.org/content/345/6202/1369.abstract
      In addition a paper just published by the University of Arizona finds the transmission rate has accelerated in recent months. https://asunews.asu.edu/20140911-ebola-transmission-rate-research

  2. Kurtz

    (9/18): Ebola outbreak: Health team ‘found dead’ in Guinea http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29256443 Also “Hell in the Hot Zone” http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2014/10/ebola-virus-epidemic-containment (Oct 1st issue) “As the Ebola epidemic rages, two questions have emerged: How did the deadly virus escape detection for three months? And why has a massive international effort failed to contain it? Traveling to Meliandou, a remote Guinean village and the likely home of Patient Zero, Jeffrey E. Stern tracks the virus’s path—and the psychological contagion that is still feeding the worst Ebola outbreak in history.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s