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FDA warns against using chlorine dioxide against new virus

January 29, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Chlorine dioxide will help get rid of the new virus from China. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns against ingesting the bleaching agent. 

THE FACTS: As news spread about the new coronavirus outbreak, social media accounts began promoting the idea that drinking chlorine dioxide or products with names like Miracle Mineral Solution would help wipe out the virus.

Chlorine dioxide has been falsely touted by fringe groups online as a “miracle” cure for autism. 

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But it’s a debunked conspiracy theory that continues to live online.

The FDA told The Associated Press in a statement that they do not recommend ingesting this product. 

 “We understand people are concerned about the spread of the novel coronavirus and we urge people to talk to their health care provider about treatment options, as well as follow advice from other federal agencies about how to prevent the spread of this illness,” the agency said. 

Chlorine dioxide is used as a bleaching agent and for water treatment. The FDA has been warning against drinking chlorine dioxide since 2010 after the agency received several reports of consumers drinking products containing the chemical. The agency warns that drinking the product can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and symptoms of severe dehydration. 

Social media users began circulating the false claim on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube shortly after the first case of the virus made landfall in the U.S. 

Nearly 6,000 cases of the virus have been reported and about 132 people have died. A majority of the reported cases have been in Wuhan, China, where the first case was found. 

Coronavirus is the name of a family of viruses including the common cold and when found in bats, camels and other animals it can evolve into SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536