The H1N1 flu, better known as the swine flu, is officially a pandemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In fact, millions of people worldwide may have already been infected with the swine flu.
The WHO reports that as of the end of October 2009 there have been more than 440,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 and over 5,700 deaths reported across the globe. The WHO says that since many countries have stopped counting individual cases, particularly of milder illness, the case count is likely to be significantly lower than the actual number of cases that have occurred.
In addition, there are numerous media stories reporting shortages of, as well as long lines of folks waiting for, the new H1N1 flu vaccine.
Sadly, cold-hearted thugs are targeting people’s fear and nervousness about the swine flu to try to make a quick buck.
For instance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently reported finding the following types of unapproved, uncleared, or unauthorized H1N1 flu products:
• a shampoo said to protect against the H1N1 flu virus
• a dietary supplement said to protect infants and young children from contracting the virus
• a “new” supplement said to cure H1N1 flu infection within four to eight hours
• a spray that claims to leave a layer of ionic silver on one’s hands that kills the flu virus
• several diagnostic tests that have not been approved to detect the H1N1 flu virus
• an electronic instrument whose sellers claim uses “photobiotic energy” and “deeply penetrating mega-frequency life-force energy waves” to strengthen the immune system and prevent symptoms associated with H1N1 viral infection
The FDA also announced what it found when it purchased and analyzed several products represented online as Tamiflu.
One of these online orders resulted in delivery to FDA of an unmarked envelope postmarked from India. Inside were unlabeled, white tablets taped between two pieces of paper that were found to contain talc and acetaminophen, an active ingredient found in many medicines to help relieve pain and reduce fever. Not found was oseltamivir, the active ingredient of Tamiflu. For more information, go to FDA.gov.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the daily news coverage about the spread of the H1N1 virus has raised public anxiety and spawned many Web site and e-mail promotions for products that claim to prevent, treat, or cure the disease. The FTC cautions consumers to be wary of all promotions related to the swine flu.
Because much is still unknown about the specific virus thought to cause swine flu, the FTC says consumers should be skeptical of claims that products such as pills, air filtration devices, and cleaning agents can kill or eliminate the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA say the best protection right now is to know the basic facts about the virus, practice good personal hygiene, and visit the CDC Web site for travel information and guidance.
Federal health and legal authorities suggest that if and when consumers see advertisements touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for H1N1, they should ask themselves one key question: If a medical breakthrough involving the virus has occurred, would they be hearing about it for the first time through an advertisement or sales pitch?
For more information from the federal government about the H1N1 flu, visit the Web sites CDC.gov and FLU.gov, or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.
Important: Be sure to contact your physician for more details about the swine flu.
My Final Thoughts: The old maxim “Information is power” applies to the prevention and treatment of the swine flu. Don’t be fooled by bogus H1N1 flu Internet claims and phony swine flu Web sites that are just trying to scare you out of your hard-earned money.
Be sure to rely on only genuine information from official government Web sites such as CDC.gov and FLU.gov, as well as advice from your own trusted health professional.
Copyright 2009 by Bruce Mandelblit
This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.
Bruce Mandelblit (www.CrimeZilla.com) is a nationally known security and safety journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer. His e-mail address is CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.
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