Doctors warn of using ‘horse dewormer’ to treat COVID-19
GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (WBAY) – A medicine intended for use as an animal dewormer is used by some people to treat COVID-19.
According to Wisconsin Poison Control, there have already been 17 cases of ivermectin poisoning this year in the state.
Trying to treat new viruses with pre-existing drugs is nothing new, said Dr Christopher Painter, emergency physician at the BayCare Clinic.
“When there is already a drug available, it can be a feeling of trying to use it for a new disease,” said Dr Painter.
In fact, research has led to COVID-19 treatment guidelines for inpatients, which include Remdesivir. The drug was studied early in the pandemic to help hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
Hydroxychloroquine was also considered a possible treatment but was found to be ineffective and “unlikely to kill or inhibit the virus that causes Covid-19, according to the FDA”.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted clinical trials and observational studies to evaluate the use of ivermectin to prevent and treat covid-19 in humans, but found insufficient evidence.
“All over the world it is used very frequently for deworming, but we even use it for other diseases like scabies and there are topical formulations for skin conditions like rosacea,” Dr. Painter said. “The reason we don’t use it for the coronavirus is because the existing evidence just doesn’t support it.”
However, this does not stop some people from looking for the drug.
“Because many doctors don’t prescribe this drug for people with covid, people are trying to find it in more innovative ways,” said Dr. Painter.
People buy over-the-counter ivermectin, which is packaged to treat parasites in large animals like horses and cattle.
“Animal preparations can be very dangerous,” said Dr. Painter. “The dosage for a 1,200 pound animal is drastically different from what it would be for a human. Even when used correctly, there can be side effects and these are much more likely to occur when users add considerably higher doses.
Dr Painter said that in the absence of evidence to suggest that ivermectin helps fight covid, he said that the wrong dosage can be disastrous and lead to many bad side effects.
“The most common things you might see would be rashes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sometimes swelling or even a racing heart. It can even be liver problems, as when studied for humans it is used several times at a lower dose than for cattle.
The Wisconsin Poison Service said there have been 17 cases of ivermectin poisoning this year in Wisconsin. Nationally, the CDC said that “poison control centers have seen a threefold increase in the number of calls for human exposures to ivermectin.” In July 2021, calls for ivermectin continued to increase sharply, up to five times higher than initially. These reports are also associated with an increased frequency of side effects and emergency room / hospital visits.
Copyright 2021 WBA. All rights reserved.