OhioHealth: Don’t use horse dewormer to fight COVID-19

Coronavirus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to take veterinary drugs to treat or prevent COVID-19.

The FDA is sounding the alarm after multiple poison control centers throughout the country received multiple reports of patients being hospitalized.

OhioHealth infectious disease expert Dr. Joseph Gastaldo said that though he has not seen patients coming to OhioHealth for self-medicating with veterinary drugs, particularly Ivermectin, he knows it’s possible because he’s prescribed the medication to many patients.

“As an infectious disease specialist, I have prescribed Ivermectin for years,” Gastaldo said.

The main reason he has prescribed the medication is to fight parasitic infections.

“This is a type of medication dosed in adults that is based on body weight and it is a one-time dose,” Gastaldo said of the proper use of the medication.

The FDA tweeted a warning Saturday, begging Americans not to use the drug to fight COVID-19, particularly the higher concentrated doses intended specifically for horses and other large farm animals.

Gastaldo said the medication can be very dangerous for those who decide to take more than one dose.

“Mental status changes, confusion, seizures, cardiac arrhythmias,” he said. “It’s really something that has a well-defined toxicity description for people who take it in a much higher dosage than recommended.”

Though Gastaldo hasn’t seen any patients at OhioHealth who misused the drug, he said he has heard from people who believe it cures COVID-19.

“Treatment or prevention of care with Ivermectin is not considered part of the standard national care of COVID-19,” he said. “There is no major medical society that endorses its use.”

If someone is seeking to prevent contracting COVID-19, Gastaldo recommends getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have three safe and effective vaccines that are very effective in preventing infection, but also preventing what matters the most: worst outcomes and hospitalizations,” he said.

Gastaldo said one more thing people should look forward to is the anti-viral pills that will hopefully be available by the end of the year, which will help fight COVID-19.

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