Bioterrorism Cures or Worries? with Antidotes and Antibiotics, What's Hype and What's Helpful Is Debatable
Wallace, Diana, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Diana Wallace Daily Herald Staff Writer
For those gripped by the fear of bioterrorism, the Infohouse Information Services web site offers up some tantalizing remedies.
Amid the promos for Russian, Israeli and Canadian gas masks is an ad for a product called Miracle II - touted as a "suggested use for anthrax decontamination."
In another ad, the site queries: "Are you experiencing the flu or an anthrax infection? Test yourself now!"
Infohouse, as it turns out, is a fledgling Internet firm operated out of the Aurora home of 25-year-old Eric Naumann.
Though he uses "we" when talking about his company, the St. Charles High School grad is the sole staff member. After trying unsuccessfully to sell telemarketing lists on the Internet, he started focusing on protective and safety products in the wake of the anthrax scare.
The home-testing kit Naumann is selling actually is a flu test. The point, he said, is that if you test positive for the flu, you can rest assured you don't have an anthrax infection.
"There are a lot of people freaking out, and I thought this would be a good way to calm people down," said Naumann, who was trained as an emergency medical technician but has never worked in the field.
"Am I trying to make money from people's fears? It's not my intent. I think that's wrong," he said. "But if I could possibly make even the smallest dent in calming people down, I'm doing my part to help the country."
As for Miracle II, the line of soap products is produced by Tedco Corp. of Calhoun, La. Its owner, Clayton Tedeton, said he was working in an unrelated field 20 years ago when he had an epiphany.
"God wrote the formulation on my bedroom wall 20 years ago," Tedeton said. "I don't know why he picked me."
Tedeton said he didn't know his product worked on anthrax until, he said, a chemist tested it. The product, marketed by more than 50 distributors nationwide, offers applications for ailments from AIDS to constipation to varicose veins.
"It's just as simple as neutralizing yourself of any raging epidemic on the land," said Tedeton, 70.
From Miracle II to protective suits to decontamination foams, dozens of products are now on the market that offer prevention, treatment or decontamination of anthrax or other forms of chemical or biological agents.
Many of these products are readily available on the Internet, and some have been endorsed by the scientific and military communities.
The difficulty, say healthcare and consumer protection officials, is distinguishing the hype from the legitimate products.
"There's going to be a great rise in health fraud and quackery with people taking advantage of the fears of bioterrorism," said James Hagen, deputy executive director of the DuPage County Health Department.
Dr. Stephen Barrett, a retired psychiatrist from Pennsylvania who operates QuackWatch, a health fraud watchdog Web site, said he's heard of claims of homeopathic remedies for anthrax exposure - something he called "the height of irresponsibility."
Authorities say consumers should be particularly wary of products or companies new to the market or those that have sprung up only since the anthrax scare began a few weeks ago.
By contrast, Sparks Technology of Batavia has been in the air- filtration business for years. It's now refined that technology to create "safe rooms" that it says can provide protection against chemical or biological attacks.
Co-owner Mark Wincent said the firm debated whether to market the product as a protection against bioterrorism to the general public. …