LOUISBURG, Kan. — Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System are seeing an alarming increase in calls to the poison control center about people taking ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19.
Dr. Stephen Thornton, medical director at the Kansas Poison Control Center, said the center has seen a bump in calls about ivermectin over the last six months.
"We are up to around 10 or a dozen cases so far, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s actually a big increase of what we normally see, normally we get one or two a year," Thornton said.
The drug is often used to prevent or treat large farm animals, such as horses and cattle, with parasites.
Dr. Jeff Thompson, owner of Town and Country Equine and Pet Hospital, said ivermectin is veterinary medicine's greatest anti-parasitic ever, but he worries about people taking it in the hopes it will prevent COVID-19.
"It scares me when I hear about the people who are not willing to be vaccinated and then turn around and say, 'Well, I'm going to take ivermectin,'" Thompson said.
While the drug is used in humans for some conditions, such as scabies or head lice, Thornton said too much can be dangerous.
"While ivermectin is a safe drug, there’s a dose that makes everything a poison, and when you take a ton of anything, you can have bad effects," Thornton said.
Thornton said he's heard of instances in other parts of the country where people have had seizures or gone into a coma due to taking too much of the drug.
"Fortunately, here in Kansas, we haven’t seen or gotten any of those types of cases yet, and hopefully we won’t," Thornton said.
Thornton believes theoretical medical articles could be contributing to the fad. However, there's currently no scientific evidence ivermectin prevents or treats COVID-19.
"Yeah, there is some theory behind it, but there’s no proof, there have been no studies, but people are just kind of making that leap from the theory to the practice and not understanding there’s a whole bunch that goes in between," Thornton said.
As a man of science, Thompson hopes if people want to protect themselves against COVID-19, they'll get a vaccine and stay away from ivermectin.
"I just hope that anybody who is trying to take that would do the research first and then decide not to do it," Thompson said.