A medication primarily used to deworm livestock should not be used to “treat” COVID-19 – a popular trend that has even prompted the FDA to chime in – because it is concentrated at levels that are dangerous to humans, according to farmers.
It should be no surprise that some people in a pandemic will resort to drastic means of treatment. After all, many of those individuals don’t have the money to walk into a doctor’s office at all, and there are people out there who believe drinking turpentine will cure any disease in the world.
But the use of ivermectin to treat humans who have Covid has apparently been so prolific as to require a warning on Saturday from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Ivermectin is often used in the U.S. to treat or prevent parasites in animals. The FDA has received multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses,” the FDA wrote.
The New York Times noted the warning, too. It also pointed out that the FDA’s move came only one day after the Mississippi State Department of Health issued a similar statement about reports of rising numbers of local citizens using ivermectin for Covid infections.
Some studies last year spurred use of the drug against Covid-19, especially in Latin America, and Fox News has promoted some of those studies’ findings on air.
But the National Institutes of Health said in February that most of the studies related to Ivermectin and the coronavirus “had incomplete information and significant methodological limitations,” including small sample sizes and study outcome measures that were often unclear.
Andrew J. Whittemore, who has 150 head of cattle in North Alabama and uses the livestock dewomer on his cows after winter seasons to prevent otherwise “inevitable” parasitic infections, said whoever pours the medicine wears protective clothing, including rubber gloves and eye protection.
That’s because “you do not want it to touch you,” Whittemore told me on Saturday. He added that the cows can have discolored skin and hair for weeks after they have the purple or blue liquid medication poured down their backs.
“I couldn’t imagine going to the feed store to get any kind of medicine for myself, but taking Ivermectin instead of a vaccine that is proven effective just boggles my mind,” Whittemore said. “The Topical application you find at feed stores has 10 times more concentration of the active ingredient than the topical treatment for head lice in humans, and 5 times more than the topical treatment for Rosacea.”
He added that, even if Ivermectin was a proven “cure” or treatment for Covid (and, he stressed, it is not), you “wouldn’t want to get it from a feed store since it’s formulated for animals that can weigh a literal ton, and not humans.”
Whittemore isn’t the only rancher who is expressing similar sentiments. Carrie Zambrano, who ran a dairy and currently trains horses, said she has used ivermectin on cattle, goats, and horses. In order to prevent thread or round worms, she poured the medication on the cows and used a paste for horses. But neither of those medicines would be recommended for human use, she said.
Zambrano said she was “shocked” when people in her circle began telling her that they were using ivermectin “as both a treatment and prophylactic for COVID.”
“Mind you, these are the same folks that also say this disease is fake,” according to Zambrano.
She said she realizes that people in the livestock industry are largely do-it-your-selfers, often without savings or the ability to take time off. So, it’s understandable that someone might just stitch themselves up on their own if they get injured, according to Zambrano. But, she said, they should still be trusting the experts.
“What I don’t understand is, we take advice from our veterinarians, or crop advisors, our agronomists – the experts, why would one not listen to medical advice from a physician?” she told me. “Using ivermectin off label, without the direction of a physician, is not only inappropriate, but it is dangerous.”
“We take precautions with our animals during disease outbreak, and we need to use the same precautions during this pandemic: trust the medical professionals, and use the same common sense with fellow humans as we would do with our livestock.”
Well, there you have it. Using horse dewormer won’t help you prevent or treat COVID, according to farmers. Maybe it’s just time to get vaccinated.