JACKSON, miss. (AP) – The Mississippi Department of Health warns people against using veterinary medicine to try to treat COVID-19 after poison control centers received calls about ingestion and illness, including two people hospitalized.
As Mississippi continues to see a sharp surge in coronavirus cases, state health official Dr. Thomas Dobbs is following an order he issued last year that says residents who contract the virus can be fined or jailed if they are not quarantined.
His tweet about the August 20 order received both support and criticism.
The Mississippi Department of Health reported Aug. 23 that 7,249 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the state over the weekend. Ministry officials also announced that 56 more people had died from the coronavirus, bringing the death toll since the pandemic started to 8,047.
At least 2% of recent calls to the Mississippi Poison Control Center have been to people taking ivermectin, with 70% of those calls being from livestock or animal formulations of the anti-parasite drug at livestock care centers, officials from the Mississippi Department of Health said.
Some symptoms associated with ivermectin toxicity include skin rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, neurological disorders, and potentially severe hepatitis requiring hospitalization.
Most of the callers had mild symptoms, health department officials said. A person was advised to see a doctor for allegedly taking a high dose.
“Patients should be instructed not to take medication to treat animals and should be instructed to only take ivermectin as directed by a doctor,” wrote state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers in a memo. “Animal medicines are highly concentrated for large animals and can be highly toxic for humans.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved ivermectin in both humans and animals for some parasitic worms, as well as head lice and skin conditions. It has not approved its use to treat or prevent COVID-19 in humans.
For those infected with the virus, failure to quarantine on the orders of a health officer will result in a fine of $ 500-5,000, up to five years’ imprisonment, or both on the orders of Dobbs.
In response to questions from The Associated Press, Health Department communications director Liz Sharlot replied that the COVID-19 isolation order, which applies to both schools and individuals, was never enforced.
“This is an option if needed,” Sharlot said.
She said enforcement was a matter for local law enforcement agencies.
More than 20,000 students were quarantined for COVID-19 in the week of August 9-13, according to the latest data released by the Ministry of Health.