JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson said Mississippians are potentially putting their lives in danger by taking ivermectin to treat COVID-19. The drug is sold at livestock supply stores as a treatment for heartworms and parasites in cows and horses.
“There’s no evidence that ivermectin can either prevent or treat COVID-19, and the risk of attempting to use this is much greater than any potential benefits,” said Dr. David Vearrier, a toxicologist and professor of emergency medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Ivermectin is not approved by the FDA for COVID-19 treatment or prevention. The COVID-19 vaccine and monoclonal antibody treatment, however, have been approved by the FDA through an emergency use authorization.
Doctors said misinformation on social media is driving people to purchase Ivermectin from their local feed stores or livestock supply businesses.
“When these things become viral, a lot of people will jump on them,” said Vearrier. “Folks are believing that it’s somehow possible that this medication will either reduce transmission, or reduce the degree of symptoms of COVID-19, none of which is correct.”
One of the biggest dangers of human Ivermectin ingestion is how easily a person can overdose, said Vearrier and Jenna Davis, a family nurse practitioner and the Poison Control Center’s managing director.
“People are buying a livestock medication intended for an animal five to 10 times their weight,” Davis said. “Generally it’s safe for animals, but depending on the dose you take, it could potentially lead to side effects that could cause death.”
Side effects can include neurological events such as dizziness, seizures and confusion; sudden drop in blood pressure; elevated heartbeat or cardiovascular issues; liver injuries such as hepatitis; and severe skin rash. That’s in addition to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, facial or limb swelling, and abnormalities that include a decrease in white cell count.
The Mississippi State Department of Health confirms at least one person has been hospitalized for ivermectin toxicity and issued a health advisory on Friday warning against ingestion of the drug as a COVID-19 treatment or preventative.
And although they were hospitalized for severe cases of COVID-19, some UMMC patients have reported they took Ivermectin, Davis said.
The MSDH advisory urges those who have become ill from taking Ivermectin to call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.