FDA pleads Americans to stop taking horse dewormer to fight COVID

The Federal Drug Administration recently issued a tweet warning: ‘you are not a horse, you are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.’

FDA pleads Americans to stop taking horse dewormer to fight COVID
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FDA pleads Americans to stop taking horse dewormer to fight COVID

The FDA has officially approved the Pfizer vaccine, claiming it meets ‘high standards of safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality.’ But despite the vaccine being a free and effective way to prevent COVID, many people have decided they’d rather chow down on horse dewormer.

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Amongst the waves of Delta variant that has been engulfing the world, officials have been noticing a surge in the misuse of horse dewormer, otherwise known as ivermectin, as a way to ward off COVID - a virus that is by no means caused by a parasite.

As a result of the ivermectin frenzy, calls to poison control have been rising, agricultural stores are running out of stock, people have been expelling their intestinal lining, and regulators are, no doubt, very concerned.

The issue has even gotten so bad that the FDA has stepped in to remind people ‘you are not a horse,' and ivermectin in any form has not been approved as safe or effective in the treatment of COVID-19.

Here’s what you need to know about the ivermectin craze

It would be wrong to say that ivermectin should never be taken by people. Ivermectin tablets have been approved at specific doses to treat some parasitic worms in humans. Topical versions of the product also exist for the treatment of skin conditions such as rosacea. However, ivermectin is not an anti-viral drug and is issued for people only by prescription and needs to be taken with care as large doses can cause serious harm.

Of course, prescriptions for such a drug can be hard to come by, leading many to swarm pet and livestock stores for a different type of ivermectin, a dewormer explicitly designed for horses and cows; animals that are generally between 380-1,000kgs.

While some initial research is underway, the FDA has not approved or reviewed any data supporting ivermectin as a COVID treatment. But that hasn’t stopped the drug from being promoted by right-wing pundits and conspiracy theorists. Ivermectin is very much having its own bleach moment.

Now, agricultural supply stores in Oklahoma and Los Vegas have sold out of ivermectin, while Idaho pharmacies have reported a shortage of the drug. On the whole, prescriptions for ivermectin have also risen from a pre-pandemic level of 3,600 per week.The New York Times reported that prescriptions for the anti-parasitic had increased to 88,000 per week as of mid-August. Not only are people flocking to their doctors and flooding farming stores; but some have also even launched fully-fledged court cases defending their rights to take the drug. One Ohio judge even recently overruled a hospitals advice and ordered that a severely ill COVID patient be treated with ivermectin after the patient’s wife made a case arguing in its favour.

The ivermectin craze isn’t just limited to the US, and imports of the drug to Australia have increased tenfold.

Horse dewormer can make people seriously ill

Unfortunately, unlike other horse products that come to mind, ivermectin doesn’t have any exciting effects, and evidence is still inconclusive as to the benefits and safety of taking the drug in any form to treat coronavirus. Actually, misuse of ivermectin could result in some dire situations.

The Mississippi Health Departmen has recently revealed that 70% of calls to the poison control centre have been due to the ‘ingestion of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin purchased at livestock supply centres’

In order to clear up any misinformation, the FDA explained that ivermectin could interfere with other medications such as blood thinners. Additionally, like many other medications, ivermectin can have some nasty results when you take too much. And, when you’re taking drugs aimed at heavyweight livestock, it can be easy to overdose.

Symptoms of ivermectin overdose include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pain
  • Facial or limb swelling
  • Hypotension
  • Allergic reactions
  • Dizziness
  • Ataxia
  • Liver injury
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Despite the side adverse side effects, a quick stroll of pro-ivermectin social media would show you that the trend won’t be over anytime soon. Back in 2020, coronavirus vaccines weren’t available, making it somewhat understandable that people turned to household products like bleach out of sheer desperation. But now that a safe and effective vaccine is available; we must question why people are so willing to put their health on the line for an ‘alternative solution’.

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