Humans taking animal medicine for unapproved COVID-19 treatment leading to shortage for local vets, state says

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Poison control sees uptick in calls as people ingest horse paste

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) issued a notice Thursday saying human use of an animal dewormer as an unapproved method to treat COVID-19 is leading to a medication shortage for the four-legged livestock that actually needs it.

Ivermectin is an anti-parasite medicine for treatment and prevention in animals. COVID-19 is a virus, not a parasite. Some humans are taking thinking it can cure coronavirus, but it is not FDA approved for that purpose.

In addition to not being authorized for treatment, there is no evidence ivermectin treats COVID-19.

Nevada Poison Control has reported an increase in calls concerning people who say they were exposed to ivermectin, even as doctors and government agencies warn that its usage is not approved to treat COVID-19. (Credit: KLAS)

Some forms of ivermectin are approved for the treatment of parasites in humans, the FDA reported, but the kinds available online, for animals, are not approved. A doctor would prescribe the drug for a parasite infection in a human — and the medication would not be in the form given to horses, the FDA warns.

Last month, a Las Vegas feed store started to require customers show proof-of-horse ownership before selling ivermectin.

V&V Tack and Feed posted a sign next to the product which read, “Ivermectin will only be sold to horse owners. Must show pic of you and your horse.”

(V&V Tack and Feed/KLAS)

In a news release Thursday, officials with the NDA said human consumption of the veterinary formulation is causing some clinics to not be able to find the medication meant for horses, cattle and sheep.

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported that ivermectin animal products are being purchased for the unapproved treatment or prevention of COVID-19,” NDA state veterinarian Dr. Amy Mitchell said in a statement. “Concerns about COVID-19 should be discussed with a physician or healthcare center.”

The department is encouraging veterinarians to report shortages to the department.

“Veterinarians are reporting difficulty in obtaining veterinary formulations of ivermectin,” she said. “This creates barriers for veterinarians in providing necessary animal medical care.”

Several weeks ago, the Nevada Poison Center told the I-Team it was seeing an uptick in calls regarding ivermectin.

Severe dangers of ivermectin include neurologic disorders, seizures, coma and death.

Nevada Poison Control can be reached by calling 800-222-1222. In the event of a medical emergency, call 911.

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