Warm Weather Brings Mosquitos and Zika Scams to North Carolina
Spring is finally here! Along with warm weather and colorful blooms, with spring comes bugs. Lots of different kind of bugs, including mosquitos.
In North Carolina, mosquitos are generally a just a mild annoyance, but with fears stemming from a large Zika virus outbreak in Central and South America, the warm weather might also bring out scammers.
Zika is a virus that has been linked to thousands of cases of severe infant birth defects in Brazil and other countries in South and Central America. There is no vaccine for the virus and those infected often have very mild symptoms. The greatest risk is to pregnant women.
To be clear, as of March 4 there are only five confirmed cases in North Carolina. All were contracted while the patient was overseas in areas known to have mosquito-borne Zika. At that time there were 190 pregnant women in North Carolina waiting for test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Even though it's unlikely that a similar mosquito-borne Zika outbreak will happen in North Carolina, people, especially pregnant women, are understandably worried. Scammers and other criminals will use these fears to try to drum up more business. The North Carolina Attorney General's Office says it already received one complaint of potentially misleading advertising for mosquito spraying that mentions the Zika virus.
The only way to prevent Zika is to avoid traveling to outbreak-infected countries. Since there is no vaccine, any products that claim to prevent or cure the illness are fake.
To protect yourself from health-related scams, the North Carolina Attorney General's Office says:
- Be skeptical. Many health products don't back up their claims with factual proof. Remember that testimonials about a product may be exaggerated or false.
- Check with your health care provider before you try any new product or equipment to treat an illness.
- If you decide to try a product, pay with a credit card. This will improve your chances of being able to get a refund if you aren't satisfied with it or if the seller goes out of business without delivering your order.
Report Zika scams to the North Carolina Attorney General's Office.