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Spike in Poison Control calls as Floridians use livestock medication as COVID treatment

Medical experts warn that the drug can cause fever, rashes, muscle pain, seizures and even death in rare cases.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — "You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously y'all. Stop it." 

Those were the words tweeted by the FDA last weekend amid a growing interest in a drug called ivermectin to treat humans who have COVID-19.

However, despite multiple reports that ivermectin is for animals and not an approved COVID treatment for humans, some Floridians are still buying it.

As a result, The Florida Poison Information Center Network says it's seen an uptick in ivermectin exposure calls.

Dawn R. Sollee is the Director of the Florida/USVI Poison Information Center in Jacksonville.

She says so far, in the month of August, exposure calls regarding ivermectin have increased approximately 280% with most of these cases involving misuse of the veterinary product. 

Sollee says so far this month, the network has received 31 exposure calls concerning ivermectin.

RELATED: People buying drug for livestock to treat COVID, tripling sales at Jacksonville feed store

Medical experts warn that the drug can cause fever, rashes, muscle pain, seizures and even death in rare cases.

Poison control centers across the U.S. received a three-fold increase in the number of calls for human exposures to ivermectin in January 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic baseline, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In July 2021, ivermectin calls have continued to sharply increase, to a five-fold increase from baseline. These reports are also associated with increased frequency of adverse effects and emergency department/hospital visits.

Veterinary formulations intended for use in large animals such as horses, sheep, and cattle can be highly concentrated and result in overdoses when used by humans, warns the CDC. Animal products may also contain inactive ingredients that have not been evaluated for use in humans. 

You can call 1-800-222-1222, 24/7 to reach Poison Control.

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