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According to state health authorities, the Mississippi Poison Control Center has seen a surge in calls from persons taking ivermectin, including livestock-specific forms of the deworming medication, to treat or prevent COVID-19.
The Mississippi Department of Health tweeted to social media on Friday to warn of the occurrence, which has been observed across the epidemic.
“Do not use ivermectin products intended for animal usage,” the organization stated on Facebook.
Additionally, the Mississippi Health Department issued a notice Friday to the state’s health care professionals noting an uptick in poison control calls related to possible ivermectin toxicity.
“At least 70% of recent calls have been connected to the consumption of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin obtained at livestock supply stores,” the notice read.
The warning comes as Mississippi continues to have record COVID-19 diagnoses and hospitalizations, with intensive care units approaching capacity. Mississippi now has the highest COVID-19 case rates in the country and the second-lowest immunization rates, according to the latest CDC statistics.
Ivermectin is lethal at high dosages. The majority of callers to Mississippi’s poison control line reported moderate symptoms, but one individual was recommended to seek additional treatment “due to the reported amount of ivermectin taken,” according to the notice.
Earlier this week, state health authorities stated that they were aware of at least one individual hospitalized in Mississippi owing to ivermectin-related poisoning.
“I believe that some individuals are attempting to utilize it as a [COVID-19] preventive, which I believe is insane, so please do not do that,” Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs stated during a Wednesday news briefing.
“Chemotherapy is not something you would purchase at a feed shop. That is, you would not treat your pneumonia with the prescription prescribed for your animal “Continuing, he stated. “It’s harmful to receive the incorrect dosage of medication, much more so when it’s for a horse or a cow. We understand the climate in which we live, but it is critical that those seeking medical care do it through their physician or provider.”
Ivermectin is frequently used to treat or prevent parasites in animals. The Food and Drug Administration has authorized ivermectin pills to treat a variety of diseases caused by parasitic worms in humans, including topical versions to treat ailments such as head lice and rosacea. However, it is not authorized for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.
In March, the FDA issued a warning against the use of “unconventional therapies,” such as ivermectin, that have not been licensed or authorized by the agency to treat or prevent COVID-19, stating that they might “cause significant damage.”
The FDA issued the warning in response to “several instances of people who required medical assistance and were hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin meant for horses.”
The FDA warned that the high dosages in ivermectin products for animals “may be extremely hazardous to humans.” Human-approved versions of the medicine may also interact with other drugs, resulting in overdose and death, the government warned.