Interest in using horse dewormer to treat COVID-19 on the rise in southern Interior | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interest in using horse dewormer to treat COVID-19 on the rise in southern Interior

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Freedom's Gate Equine Rescue Society
September 02, 2021 - 7:30 AM

Some farm supply stores in the southern Interior are seeing a surge in sales of a drug that is typically used to treat or prevent parasites in animals.

There seems to be a growing interest in the drug, called ivermectin, to treat humans with COVID-19.

There is a human version of ivermectin authorized for sale in Canada, but only for the treatment of parasitic worm infections in people, while the veterinary version, especially at high doses, can be dangerous for humans and may cause serious health problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, dizziness, seizures, coma and even death, according to an advisory released by Health Canada yesterday, Aug. 31.

George Raye with Buckerfield’s, a farm and garden supply store in Kelowna that carries products for livestock and pets, said he has been receiving more than the usual quantity of calls from people looking to purchase ivermectin. Buckerfield's also has locations in Salmon Arm, West Kelowna and Abbotsford.

“We have seen a surge of sales of ivermectin in the last couple of weeks,” Raye said. “No one has indicated what they are using it for, but we try our best to do our due diligence to ensure it is being sold to people who have horses and farmers who have accounts with us.”

There are several different products that are used for deworming horses that come in varying sizes and concentrations of the active ingredient ivermectin, he said.

“Generally farmers and ranchers deworm their horses two to four times per year, and they don’t use the same product every time," Raye said. "The products come with an oral syringe and are to be given orally to horses and nothing else.”

Health Canada advises Canadians not to use either the veterinary or human drug versions of ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19 because of the potential serious health dangers posed by them, stating there is no evidence that ivermectin in either formulation is safe or effective when used for those purposes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses, according to a publication released in May, 2021. The FDA has not approved ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans and warns that taking large doses of this drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm. 

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