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[Commentary]: Mississippi Forced to Warn Residents to Not Take Livestock Drugs for COVID-19

A growing number of people, particularly in the American South, have been self-medicating with a drug called Ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19. Ivermectin is used in humans and livestock to treat parasitic worm infections and is not approved for use against the coronavirus.

Photo by Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Back in March, the United States Food and Drug Administration warned that unauthorized use of ivermectin can be deadly:

  • 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. 

Improper administration of ivermectin has inundated the Mississippi Poison Control Center with frantic reports of poisonings, adding to the already enormous strain placed on health care workers and emergency services as the Delta variant fills beds in hospitals and intensive care units.

Mississippi has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the nation. But the most disturbing aspect to this face-palming development is that the people who are the most vehemently opposed to vaccines – often claiming that they refuse to put anything that is not FDA-approved into their bodies – are experimenting with drugs designed for farm animals.

On Friday, the Mississippi Department of Health sent a letter to the state’s Health Alert Network outlining the problem and reiterating the dangers of taking a medication that is designed for human consumption:

  • The Mississippi Poison Control Center has received an increasing number of calls from individuals with potential ivermectin exposure taken to treat or prevent COVID-19 infection.

  • At least 70% of the recent calls have been related to ingestion of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin purchased at livestock supply centers.

  • 85% of the callers had mild symptoms, but one individual was instructed to seek further evaluation due to the amount of ivermectin reportedly ingested.

  • No hospitalizations due to ivermectin toxicity have been directly reported to the Mississippi Poison Control Center or the Mississippi State Department of Health.

  • There are approved uses for ivermectin in both people and animals. Patients should be advised to not take any medications intended to treat animals and should be instructed to only take ivermectin as prescribed by their physician.

  • Animal drugs are highly concentrated for large animals and can be highly toxic in humans. Some of the symptoms associated with ivermectin toxicity include rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, neurologic disorders, and potentially severe hepatitis requiring hospitalization.

There is simply no way around saying this: we have an epidemic of stupidity and selfishly reckless behavior in this country which is prolonging the pandemic and putting everyone else’s well-being at risk. This is compounded by misleading messaging emanating from Republican governors like Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Florida’s Ron “Death Santis” DeSantis, and Greg Abbott of Texas, all of whom have been vaccinated. This week, Abbott tested positive for a breakthrough case after having attended a maskless event packed with over 600 guests. Yet on almost a daily basis, they discourage wearing masks and sow doubt into their constituents’ heads about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines under the guises of freedom, choice, and bodily autonomy – never mind that they do not apply this same reasoning to abortion.

Thus, unsurprisingly, South Dakota, Florida, and Texas have become COVID hotspots while kids – for whom vaccines are not presently available – are herded into crowded classrooms to start the new school year. Despite the obvious potential for an even bigger rapid spread of SARS-COV-2, DeSantis and Abbott have tried to make school mask mandates illegal, regardless of the consequences to human and economic health.

When will this insanity end?



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