MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A poison control hotline in Alabama is fielding increased calls about possible ivermectin poisoning, an animal dewormer that doctors are warning people not to try as a home remedy for COVID-19.
The Alabama Poison Information Center at Children's of Alabama has fielded 24 ivermectin exposure cases so far this year, of which 15 were related to COVID-19 prevention and treatment, Conan Gasque, a spokesman for Children's of Alabama, wrote in an email. There have been an additional five calls this year seeking information about ivermectin.
By comparison, there were six total calls in 2019 and 12 in 2020. Those numbers included both known exposures and people seeking information.
While, federal regulators have approved ivermectin to treat people and animals for some parasitic worms and for head lice and skin conditions, it's not approved for COVID-19. The human and animal formulations are not the same, and doctors say it's dangerous for people to self-dose, particularly with the large quantities given to animals.
"You are not a horse. You are not a cow, Seriously, y'all. Stop it." the Food and Drug Administration tweeted on Saturday with a link to a page explaining, "Why you should not use Ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19."
The ivermectin exposure calls to the Alabama Poison Information Center are only a small fraction of calls to the center. It handled more than 105,000 calls, including initial and follow-up calls, in 2020.
The Mississippi Health Department has also warned people not to use the livestock medicine to try to treat COVID-19, after poison-control centers there received calls about some ingesting it and becoming ill, including two people who were hospitalized.