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Fact Check: Chlorine, Vitamin C are not Ebola treatments



The Ebola virus can't be prevented by drinking chlorine, and can't be treated with Vitamin C or essential oils.
The Ebola virus can't be prevented by drinking chlorine, and can't be treated with Vitamin C or essential oils.
CDC/Getty Images

Two Dallas nurses contracted Ebola while treating the country’s first victim of the disease, Thomas Eric Duncan. Beyond that, Ebola does not appear to be spreading in the United States.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about myths and misinformation.

Chlorine is not a cure

There’s currently no FDA-approved medicine or vaccine for Ebola.

Still, on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a strongly-worded advisory, warning people that drinking chlorine is not a cure for Ebola. If someone has been near a person with Ebola and has a fever or other symptoms, the CDC says, he should "go to an Ebola treatment unit now. It could save your life."

A second advisory alerts health care workers to such rumors, and describes the signs of chlorine poisoning.

Chlorine has played a big role in preventing the spread of the disease, explains NPR producer Nicole Beemsterboer. While reporting in Liberia for 10 days, she washed her hands - as well as her boots and shoes - in a chlorine solution constantly, she told NPR.

That being said, I haven't confirmed where these rumors started, or if people have been drinking chlorine in a misguided attempt to ward off Ebola.

Fraudulent treatments

Meanwhile, Lauren Silverman of KERA in Dallas reports that companies are marketing products – like Vitamin C, essential oils, herbs and snake venom – as alternative treatments for Ebola.

Silverman spoke with Gary Coody, national health fraud coordinator for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He said it’s common for such products to appear on the market during outbreaks.

The concern, Coody said, is that if someone actually contracted Ebola and tried using one of these fraudulent products first, it could cause them to delay seeking medical care. The products, he said, could also give people a false sense of protection against the virus.

Silverman reports that the FDA has sent warning letters about Ebola treatment claims to three companies, saying that the claims are in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

What other myths have you heard about Ebola? Let us know in the comments section below or e-mail us at Impatient@scpr.org. We’ll do our best to debunk them.