USDA warns people not to take livestock medicine
I went to our local feed store to buy deworming medication for our horses earlier this year and they were sold out of my preferred brand.
“We haven’t been able to keep Ivermectin on the shelves since the pandemic began,” explained the salesman. “People on social media think that it cures Covid, so it just flies off the shelves.”
At the time, I thought it was a weird trend that would quickly blow over like all the other Facebook fads. Has anyone drank bleach lately or ate Tide pods? Didn’t think so. I assumed that people who were ingesting Ivermectin horse de-wormers, which comes in a paste or tablet form and is available in plain or apple flavors, would realize that a medicine meant to cure livestock parasites wouldn’t do much for human respiratory diseases. I bought deworming granules to mix with my horses’ feed and didn’t think much more about it.
Fast forward to six months later, and now health officials are issuing public warnings that people should stop taking ivermectin to treat Covid symptoms. Mississippi residents in particular were calling poison control hotlines in such large numbers that the health department stepped in with some timely advice.
“There are approved uses for ivermectin in both people and animals. Patients should be advised to not take any medications intended to treat animals and should be instructed to only take ivermectin as prescribed by their physician,” the Mississippi State Department of Health said in an alert. “Animal drugs are highly concentrated for large animals and can be highly toxic in humans. Some of the symptoms associated with ivermectin toxicity include rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, neurologic disorders, and potentially severe hepatitis requiring hospitalization.”
It’s a dosage issue, it’s a cross-species issue, and now it’s a national (maybe just Southern?) health issue.
85% of recent callers experienced mild symptoms, but one person was instructed to seek further evaluation due to the amount of ivermectin they had reportedly taken.
The US Food & Drug Administration (USDA) tweeted on Saturday: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”
Although Ivermectin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat intestinal complications caused by parasitic worms and for topical use to treat head lice and rosacea in humans, the dosage in each tablet or gram of paste varies drastically from horses to humans. Ivermectin is not currently approved by the FDA for use in humans to prevent or cure Covid-19.
Which is good news, because my horses are due for their next round of deworming. And they’re going to really upset if all those people in Mississippi took all the apple flavored paste again.