People Shouldn’t Need to Be Told Not to Take Horse Medicine, and Yet

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The US FDA had to warn people not to treat themselves with ivermectin, a drug commonly used to de-worm horses. And similarly, warnings are circulating in Australia after reports surfaced of people trying to use the drug as a COVID-19 treatment.

You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, all of you. Stop it.

– US FDA (@US_FDA) August 21, 2021

If this sounds familiar, you may remember when people used fish antiparasitics to protect themselves from the virus last year. At least one person died in the process.

The buzz about these alternative treatments comes from the same people who don’t want to wear masks or take COVID vaccines. Although hundreds of millions of people have been vaccinated and the vaccines have proven overwhelmingly safe, a shockingly large proportion of people would rather trust a drug that has not been proven to work against the coronavirus.

Or as a medical professional put it on Twitter: “I love the irony of a thousand people screaming ‘I’m not a sheep’ while buying sheep drink.”

I admire the irony of a thousand people who shout “I’m not a sheep” when they buy sheep drinks

– ClomBehrens #AlwaysWasAlwaysWillBe (@SezClom) August 23, 2021

Okay, what is ivermectin and why shouldn’t I indulge myself?

Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug. It’s found in some prescription products for humans, but the easiest and cheapest way to get your hands on some is to go to your local feed store and buy horse dewormers or one of the other ivermectin products made for animals. (It’s found in heartworm medication for dogs, for example.)

However, since horses and cows are large animals, the dosages for them are similar: for example, a 9-inch tube of toothpaste is a single dose for a 500kg horse.

“People should never take veterinary drugs,” the FDA stressed. These drugs are often more concentrated than the human intended versions, and the inactive ingredients are not necessarily approved for use in human medicines or human food. Basically, it doesn’t mean it’s safe for you or your loved ones just because it doesn’t kill a horse.

Ivermectin is also a real drug. Medications have side effects and interactions, and ivermectin is no exception. The FDA says:

Even the concentrations of ivermectin for approved uses [in humans] may interact with other drugs such as blood thinners. You can also overdose on ivermectin, which can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (balance problems), seizures, coma, and even death.

If you have COVID or are concerned about exposure, you should get tested, stay away from others until you feel better, and get medical help as needed (from a folk doctor, not a veterinarian) take advantage of.

And please watch out for your friends and relatives who may receive poor information about COVID prevention and treatment from Facebook or other sources.

The vaccines are far safer and more effective than any unproven treatment, whether it’s equine dewormers, essential oils, or prescription drugs bought from a friend’s sketchy “doctor”.

This article has been updated since its original publication date.