BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Calls to Alabama’s only poison control hotline over ivermectin, primarily used as an animal dewormer but inaccurately rumored to treat COVID-19, are on track to triple this year, an official says.
In 2019, only six cases of ivermectin poisoning were called into the Alabama Poison Information Center (APIC), Dr. Ann Slattery, its director, said Monday.
In 2020, that number doubled, with 12 cases being reported by the end of the year.
Now, nearly eight months into 2021, that number had risen significantly, to 21 cases. If cases continue to be called in at a similar rate, they will have tripled over last year by the end of 2021.
Ivermectin is a medicine primarily used in the deworming of livestock. It has limited use in humans, including in the treatment of certain parasitic worms. The formulation used in humans is not the same as that used in animals, and consuming it could be fatal, according to doctors.
The medicine has been a subject of disinformation in relation to its use against COVID-19, for which it has not been approved. The FDA even hosts a webpage called “Why you should not use ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19” which outlines the danger of utilizing the drug as a treatment for coronavirus.
“The FDA has received multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses,” the page says. “There’s a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it’s okay to take large doses of ivermectin. That is wrong.”
The FDA’s page concludes by listing proven, effective methods of preventing infection with COVID-19.
“Meanwhile, effective ways to limit the spread of COVID-19 continue to be to wear your mask, stay at least 6 feet from others who don’t live with you, wash hands frequently, and avoid crowds,” it said.
Despite the significant increase in calls over ivermectin, they only account for a tiny fraction of APIC’s total call volume.
If you are concerned about poisoning by ivermectin or any other substance, you can contact Alabama’s only poison control center, APIC, at 1-800-222-1222