TAMPA, Fla. — When used on horses and other livestock, Ivermectin is great at treating parasites and worms.
“The bigger problem is that people are going to feed stores and getting the livestock version of ivermectin,” said Dr. Michael Teng, a professor of Medicine at USF Health.
The FDA is urging people to stop and says large doses can be extremely dangerous and it has not approved ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans.
“The Florida Poison Control has gotten a number of calls about people poisoning themselves with livestock ivermectin,” said Dr. Teng.
From June to August, those calls nearly tripled, and overdosing can cause a host of issues which can include seizures, coma and even death.
“It’s crazy that you would go out of your way not to get vaccinated and treat yourself with something completely unapproved for that particular purpose,” he said.
There is a human version of ivermectin that also is prescribed to get rid of worms and parasites, even topical conditions like head lice. The CDC says before the pandemic, pharmacies dispensed about 3,600 prescriptions a week. For the second week of August that number jumped to 88,000. That’s a 24-fold increase.
“Those are parasites, those are actual organisms that live in your body, a virus is not an organism that lives in your body, a virus has to infect cells,” said Dr. Teng. “There’s no similarity between a worm and a virus. Just because they cause infection, that’s not the same thing at all.”
He says if you are prescribed ivermectin by a doctor follow the directions precisely.
“if you get a prescription then take it as prescribed,” he said. “Don’t think that, well I need to double dose or anything like that, take the right dosage.”