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Sales of horse dewormer in Cobb rise as health experts warn against use for COVID-19

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Some Cobb County feed stores are saying that horse dewormer ivermectin is flying off the shelves. Said some merchants, it has become difficult to keep the drug on the shelves, given the uptick in sales, but they do not think people are making the purchases and using it on sick horses. Instead, many have foolishly sought horse medicine for themselves for COVID-19 due to misinformation.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that in some cases, people have ingested ivermectin-containing products meant for horses, sheep and cattle.

Reports of people misusing the medication and injecting it into themselves, or other humans, have been coming in for months. This is occurring despite efforts by the US Food and Drug Administration, health experts, and local public health officials to warn the public against the use of this horse deworming medication to prevent or treat COVID-19.

The FDA has been warning consumers for months against the use of ivermectin. The agency was forced to tweet a reminder saying, “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”

The FDA and the distributors of the horse both say the horse medication can be fatal to humans and has not been proven to prevent or treat COVID-19. “Ivermectin is not an antiviral,” a statement from the FDA said. Federal health experts say the ivermectin meant for livestock — which is sold in tablets and paste and comes in huge, concentrated doses — “can cause seizures, comas and death.”

Cobb-Douglas Public Health Director Dr. Janet Memark was one of the first persons to sound the alarm in a recent newsletter. In her monthly updates to the community on COVID-19 infections and vaccinations, Memark mentioned that there had been “validated reports” of people taking ivermectin for livestock to prevent COVID-19.

“DO NOT DO THIS!” Memark said.

Both Memark and the FDA say that there are prescribed uses for ivermectin for humans in specific situations.

 “Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical … formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. In any form, the drug is not approved or proven for use against COVID-19, according to federal health authorities.

Dr. Danny Branstetter, an infectious disease specialist with Wellstar Health System, said people sought out quick fixes and home remedy treatments and landed on ivermectin based on misinformation. Said Branstetter, studies have also shown that “ivermectin has not been effective at preventing COVID-19, reducing how long a person is sick with the virus or how severely ill they may be.” Branstetter went on to say that the bottom line is that ivermectin is “not effective in any stage of prevention or treatment for COVID-19. My advice would be, don’t take it.”

The CDC acknowledged that poison control centers across the U.S. have received a three-fold increase in the number of calls for ivermectin exposure in January 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic baseline.

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