Poison control calls spike as people try livestock dewormer to treat COVID-19
JACKSON, Miss. (WMC) - The Mississippi State Department of Health sent a health alert Friday warning health care providers about a drug used to deworm livestock that some are using to prevent or treat COVID-19.
According to the alert, the Mississippi Poison Control Center has received several calls related to the ingestion of ivermectin meant for livestock, causing illness in COVID-19 patients.
Ivermectin is approved for use in both people and animals, but animal drugs are highly concentrated and can be highly toxic in humans.
The FDA points out ivermectin is not an anti-viral medication so it doesn’t fight any virus, like the coronavirus. It’s prescribed as tablets to people to treat conditions caused by parasitic worms or as a topical ointment for external parasites like head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. The FDA issued a consumer update about ivermectin in March and again in April.
According to the health alert in Mississippi:
- At least 70% of the recent calls have been related to ingestion of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin purchased at livestock supply centers
- 85% of the callers had mild symptoms
- No one has been hospitalized due to ingestion of the drug
In Mississippi, the Poison Control Center is asking to be notified by any physicians, providers or hospitals in the state who know patients with illness related to the medication, either prescribed or livestock formulations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mississippi had more than 25,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the past week, including 5,000 in the past day, with a positivity rate between 20 and 24.9% of tests. The State Department of Health says 42% of its population age 12 and up is fully vaccinated, compared to a national average of 60%.
Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved. WBAY contributed to this report.