H1N1 kits: are they worth the price?

Reported by Claire Simms - bio|email
Posted by Lauren Thomson - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - With just a few strokes of the keyboard and a couple clicks of the mouse, you can find countless products said to prevent the spread of Swine Flu.

So we decided to put one of the flu protection kits to the test - an "Influenza Infection Defense Kit" from a website called safetycentral.com.

"If this is something for the general public, I'm not sure that they would really know what to do with this," said Jan Christine at the New Hanover County Health Department.

For just $50 our kit includes the basics, like antiseptic wipes and tissues, but it also has a full contamination suit... something health professionals say no one needs at home.

Christine went through the kit with us and was surprised to see that it didn't arrive with any instructions for the consumer. The site claims the kit "was designed for the person who must be protected in an office environment, school, grocery shopping, and everyday contact with the public."

Christine says these items might be taking it too far, "I don't think someone would need this anywhere but on the moon." Health experts say you don't need to travel that far to avoid infection.

People can find everything they need along the aisles of their local drug store, including professionals who can help.

We were able to buy everything the health department recommends: soap, tissues, hand sanitizer, wipes, even a mask for just $15.

The Better Business Bureau is warning people to avoid products advertised online to protect you from the H1N1 virus.

Eastern North Carolina BBB President Beverly Baskin says, "these are scams. That's just what they are. They run the gamut: from body washes to sprays and air fresheners to masks to shampoos."

The problem is so widespread that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published a list of almost 200 "Swine Flu" products to avoid.

The website we used is not on the FDA's list, but has earned an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Christine says the kit we ordered does have some helpful items, but "$50 is kind of a lot of money for a kit. Those precautions don't really cost anything."

So even in the digital age, it looks like the best prevention can be found at home and not on a homepage.

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