In the wake of the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September and the subsequent anthrax attacks, a number of Internet sites have begun offering remedies for anthrax and other bioterrorism threats. However, almost all of these sites are fraudulent, the Federal Trade Commission warned.
Among the ineffectual remedies on offer were dietary supplements such as oregano oil, zinc mineral water, colloidal silver and thyme, the FTC said.
Last November the FTC sent e-mail warnings to operators of 50 sites peddling questionable treatments for anthrax, smallpox and other potential biological weapons. Half those sites have dropped their claims, but the rest are still broadcasting the false claims.
"Products that may have a legitimate use and a legitimate function are being promoted for things that they won't do," said Howard Beales, the agency's director of consumer protection.
The US government has approved prescription antibiotics - not dietary supplements - to prevent or treat anthrax, the FDA said. A smallpox vaccine exists, but there is no proven treatment for smallpox, nor any FDA-approved home anthrax test.