Mid-South poison control centers seeing increased calls for ivermectin

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 12:39 AM EDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Mid-South poison control centers are seeing an increased number of calls because of the anti-parasitic drug, ivermectin, being used to combat COVID-19.

The drug is commonly used as a de-wormer for livestock.

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) sent out a warning Tuesday about the drug. MSDH reports that two people have been hospitalized after ingesting ivermectin. Tennessee’s Poison Center received a dozen calls in a single week in August from people who used ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

The medical director of the poison center, Dr. Rebecca Bruccoleri, says taking the drug can result in serious side effects.

“It can cause GI upset, it can cause neurological symptoms too,” she said. “We’ve been seeing people who have been having altered mental states because of this come in. So, this can be a serious ingestion.”

Ivermectin has not been approved by the FDA as a treatment for COVID-19 nor has it received emergency use authorization.

MSDH warns that livestock ivermectin is highly concentrated and toxic to people. Patients are encouraged only to take medicine to treat COVID-19 if it’s been prescribed by their healthcare provider.

Health care experts once again stress that the best medicine that can be used to prevent getting seriously ill from COVID-19 is the vaccine.

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