Doctors warn of Ivermectin rumors connected to COVID-19 treatment

Coronavirus

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 virus and treatment continues to circulate on social media. One of the most recent rumors is connected to a livestock de-wormer called Ivermectin.

Many doctors and healthcare agencies are urging people to stop the use of the animal medication.

“Don’t do it,” said Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health. “Don’t take Ivermectin for prevention or treatment of COVID. This is another rumor. This is another piece of misinformation.”

Ivermectin is primarily used as an animal or livestock deworming medication. It has limited use in humans, including in the treatment of certain parasitic worms. The formulation used in humans is not the same as that used in animals, and consuming it could be fatal, according to doctors.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted an article titled “Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19.” In the article, it listed bullet points on what you should know:

  • FDA has not approved ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans. Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. Ivermectin is not an anti-viral (a drug for treating viruses).
  • Taking large doses of this drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm. 
  • If you have a prescription for ivermectin for an FDA-approved use, get it from a legitimate source and take it exactly as prescribed. 
  • Never use medications intended for animals on yourself. Ivermectin preparations for animals are very different from those approved for humans.

Dr. Karen Landers says there are zero studies to support taking Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.

“Now certainly there are always anecdotal experiences where someone says ‘Well, I did this or I did that’ but again, studies are not there and there is a significant increased risk of safety when people are taking the product,” said Dr. Landers.

The Alabama Poison Information Center is getting almost triple the number of calls for Ivermectin poisoning.

In 2019, six calls were made to the APIC. In 2020, there were 12 calls. Now, nine months into 2021, the number has risen to 21 cases.

Dr. Hafsa Siddiqui is an infectious disease specialist with Huntsville Hospital who says the main prevention from the virus is getting a vaccination.

“People who want to discuss Ivermectin, my message to them is please go and get the vaccine,” said Dr. Siddiqui.

“Please don’t put yourself in jeopardy by taking this unapproved and dangerous product,” said Dr. Landers.

If you get the COVID-19 virus and are looking for a treatment, Dr. Landers says the monoclonal antibody treatment is proven to work for those who qualify.

If you are concerned about poisoning by any other substance, you can contact Alabama’s only poison control center, APIC, at (800) 222-1222.

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