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In the News: Ebola

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Produced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), this digitally-colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicts numerous filamentous Ebola virus particles budding from a chronically-infected VERO E6 cell.

Produced by the NIAID

The Ebola epidemic is currently affecting several countries in West Africa, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed the first travel-associated case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States, as well as transmission to two nurses who cared for the individual. Although the risk of Ebola spreading in the United States is very low and the epidemic in West Africa does not pose a significant risk to the U.S. public, the CDC and its partners are actively working to prevent an outbreak from occurring.

Since the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has seen and received consumer complaints about a variety of products claiming to either prevent the Ebola virus or treat the infection. The FDA is advising consumers to be aware of products sold online claiming to prevent or treat the Ebola virus. There are currently no FDA-approved vaccines or drugs to prevent or treat Ebola, and there are no known herbal treatments or other “natural” or “alternative” therapies that prevent or cure this disease.

Frequently Asked Questions About “Alternative” Therapies for Ebola

Question Are there homeopathic, traditional, folk, or holistic remedies that can treat Ebola?
Answer

There are currently no FDA-approved vaccines or drugs, including homeopathic agents, traditional or folk medicines, or holistic remedies to prevent or treat the Ebola virus. Although there are experimental Ebola vaccines and treatments under development, these investigational products are in the early stages of product development, have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness, and the supply is very limited.

Question I have an idea for a cure for Ebola. How do I get funding to develop it?
Answer

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is the lead NIH Institute for research on infectious diseases caused by viruses, including Ebola virus. Information about applying for an NIH grant to study Ebola virus is found at www.niaid.nih.gov/researchfunding/grant/pages/default.aspx. To learn more about NIAID funding opportunities and announcements, see https://www.niaid.nih.gov/grants-contracts/opportunities. NIH generally does not make grant awards to individuals but to their sponsoring institution (usually an academic or other research organization).

Please be aware that the peer review process for funding and conducting research is an imperative, and there is no method of bypassing this important step.

Question How can I protect myself against Ebola?
Answer

Please keep in mind that the vast majority of the U.S. population is not at risk of contracting Ebola.

There is no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola. Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are currently under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

A person infected with Ebola can’t spread the disease until symptoms appear. Ebola is spread through direct contact with blood and body fluids. To protect yourself, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • DO NOT touch the blood or body fluids (like urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat, and semen) of people who are sick.
  • DO NOT handle items that may have come in contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids, like clothes, bedding, needles, or medical equipment.

As always, people should take everyday preventive actions to protect themselves and others from a wide variety of viruses and bacteria.

  • Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away after use and wash your hands. If a tissue is not available, cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve, not your hand.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

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This page last modified March 10, 2017