SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Amid rising COVID cases and hospitalizations nationwide and locally, there’s word that in some parts of the country people are turning to animal dewormer medication to try to prevent and or treat the virus.
“It’s just sad, you know. It’s a lot of misinformation, and it kills people,” said Dr. Holly Richmond, a Savannah veterinarian.
The issue is the purchase of the drug ivermectin, which is used for parasites, often in large animals such as horses and cows.
Dr. Richmond — who also holds a master’s degree in public health and is a diplomate for the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine — says animal medicine is not designed for human use.
“Cows and horses weigh over 1,000 pounds,” said Richmond.
“We are very different than they are and have very different metabolisms and would require very different doses,” she said, “and that’s really scary and that’s why people are dying.”
“It’s really scary when a sort of fad that potentially started from some bad data is taking people’s lives,” Richmond added.
There is actually a version of ivermectin approved for humans, which you have to get from a physician, but Richmond says even the human version is designed to treat worms.
“Ivermectin is not an anti-viral drug, it is an anti-parasitic drug, and COVID is most definitely a virus,” explained Richmond. “Viruses and parasites are probably more different than I am from an elephant, so it’s not the same thing.”
She just hopes people will be cautious and careful.
“We all want a silver bullet for COVID,” Richmond said. “We all want it to go away, but it’s not there yet.
“Ivermectin’s not it, we haven’t found it yet. The best thing we’ve got is preventing it and preventing severe illness and death with vaccines. That’s what we’ve got, FDA-approved, efficacious and safe vaccines.”
She added: “Use the drugs for what they’re labeled for and get vaccinated.”