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'Intentional misuse' ivermectin poisonings on the rise in Texas

Ivermectin is meant to treat worms in cows and horses, but calls to poison control centers show that people are trying to use it to treat COVID-19.

TYLER, Texas — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning people to stop using a drug meant for livestock to "treat or prevent" COVID-19. 

Ivermectin is meant to treat worms in cows and horses, but calls to poison control centers show people are trying to use it to treat COVID-19.

According to the Texas Poison Control network, ivermectin exposure calls have increased by 38 over the last year. In August 2020, there were no cases of ivermectin poisoning, but so far this August, there have been at least 16. 

"Symptoms that you will see are things like nausea, vomiting, lower blood pressure, diarrhea," Lizbeth Petty, of North Texas Poison Center (NTPC), said. "You’re going to see that with more concentrated doses. What we’ve seen is that a lot of the ivermectin that is being purchased from feed stores and that specific dosage of ivermectin is for large animals."

The NTPC serves the following counties:

  • Anderson
  • Bowie
  • Camp
  • Cass
  • Cherokee
  • Collin
  • Cooke
  • Dallas
  • Delta
  • Denton
  • Ellis
  • Erath
  • Fannin
  • Franklin
  • Grayson
  • Gregg
  • Harrison
  • Henderson
  • Hood
  • Hopkins
  • Hunt
  • Johnson
  • Kaufman
  • Lamar
  • Marion
  • Morris
  • Navarro
  • Palo Pinto
  • Panola
  • Parker
  • Rains
  • Red River
  • Rockwall
  • Rusk
  • Smith
  • Somervell
  • Tarrant
  • Titus
  • Upshur
  • Van Zandt
  • Wise
  • Wood

According to the NTPC, a majority of those ivermectin call patients were between the ages of 40-49. Also, most of the calls were labeled "intentional misuse."

The FDA wants the public to know the following about ivermectin:

  • 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. 

There are studies to see if small doses of ivermectin can be used to treat COVID-19, but until any conclusive evidence is shown, the FDA is asking people to stop using it.