The buzz over Ebola has triggered sales that might be described as overboard (body suits), ironic (Ebola Halloween costumes), or downright bizarre (protective masks featuring a hip-hop artist's face).
LastÂ Monday, the World Health Organization declared that theÂ Ebola outbreak is officially over in Nigeria. Yet fears of the deadly virus continue to grip the world, meaning that sales of Ebola-related products like these are likely to continue being strong.
Disinfectants, Clorox, Lysol, and hand sanitizer are among the germ-fighting products that have experienced a boost in sales since Ebola fears have hit the U.S. and other nations. In a recent four-week period, for instance, Clorox sales were up 28%. Anecdotally, travelers report that hand sanitizer and other anti-germ products are appearing more often near the checkout areas of airport shops, though that may be partly just because itâs flu season.
- 12 Things Made for Kids Now Being Marketed to Adults
- What Does It Mean for an Ebola Outbreak to End?
- The Owner of Ebola.com Is Trying to Cash In
After word spread that someone in the U.S. was being treated for Ebola, sales of medical-grade masks, gloves, body suits, and other protective gear made by one Chicago-area firm spiked. The number of phone calls the company handled increased fivefold almost overnight, and sales of face masks jumped by 40%. Sales of a wide variety of infection protection and doomsday prep kits have soared as well. And speculative investors see opportunity in the situation, too. One day in early October, the stock price of Lakeland Industriesâwhich manufactures industrial protective gear worn by professionals who might come into contact with dangerous chemicals and virusesâsurged more than 50% (before retreating significantly of late).
Hip-Hop Ebola Masks
Basic polypropylene masks sell for less thanb 10 cents apiece when purchased in bulk. But when youâre going to the trouble of protecting yourself from germs with a mask, why not go the extra step and protect yourself in style? That, presumably, is the sales pitch from the rapper Camâron, who is selling polypropylene masks for $19.99 each, featuring an image of his likeness on themâoddly, while heâs speaking on a pink flip phone. Perhaps even more oddly, the item is only available for preorder at the moment. âShips 11/7/14,â the order page explains. Youâll have to hold your breath or (gasp!) use a lame, basic mask until then.
Ebola Halloween Costumes
Thanks to the worldâs lightning-fast-moving attention span, weâre guaranteed that anything thatâs been buzzing in the news or has achieved meme status in October is bound to pop up in some form as a Halloween costume. Even if itâs a subject as grim and deadly serious as Ebola. So it shouldnât come as a surprise that the âhot costumeâ label has been applied to Ebola-related outfits, including Ebola containment workers, Ebola victims, and Ebola zombies.
To be fair to Giant Microbes, the Connecticut-based âLearning & Funâ company has been manufacturing plush toy versions of Bed Bugs, Chickenpox, Dengue Fever, Black Death, and no fewer than three Ebola products long before Ebola sales became trendy. In any event, sales of Giant Microbesâ âuniquely contagiousâ Ebola toys have been off the charts since the virus became a mainstay on cable TV news; the company has been completely sold out for days.
Fake Charity Scams
The Better Business Bureau warned consumers about âa variety of Ebola-related scams and problematic fundraisersâ that have popped up in recent days, including crowdfunding ventures that arenât necessarily providing any aid to Ebola victims and sketchy phone solicitations that arenât tied to any genuine, known charities.
Essential oils and herbal remedies are among the many unproven âcuresâ that have been suggested as strategies for fighting off Ebola, but of all the groundless theories for protecting oneself, none has gotten more attention than Vitamin C. One opportunistic New York businessman has been selling up to 14,000 packages per day lately of a supplement with 554% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin Câwhich he packages under the name Ebola-C.
Science blogs have felt compelled to combat the misinformation, describing one effort to pump up sales of the vitamin as a âparticularly irresponsible bit of quackery promotion.â In a Los Angeles Times story about purported Ebola âcures,â Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and professor of medicine at New York University, said that while Vitamin C is part of a healthy diet and helps build up oneâs immune system, âthereâs no evidence it has any effect on infectious diseaseâ when taken in higher doses. Whatâs more, âall this quack stuff takes money and effort awayâ from legitimate research devoted to coping with Ebola and other health dangers.
In 2008, a forward-thinking entrepreneur named Jon SchultzÂ purchased the Ebola.com URL for $13,500. Heâs now willing to part with control of the site for a mere $150,000, the Washington PostÂ reported.