As more people decide to taking ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19, Chicago’s top doctor warned Tuesday against taking the parasite medicine typically used on horses and cattle.
“First and foremost, do not ever, please, take any medicine that is formulated for animals. It’s dangerous, and it can really be a problem,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
Ivermectin is a deworming drug used in veterinary medicine, according to Arwady, and has been causing “all kinds of issues” in humans who decide to consume it, such as liver problems and nausea.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ivermectin overdose symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, dizziness, problems with balance, seizures, coma and death.
“I would encourage anybody who’s having serious signs of COVID, please don’t wait go to your doctor and have a conversation about treatments,” Arwady added.
She said there are some trials that are planning to look at ivermectin as a COVID treatment, similar to other medications, but there’s no evidence at this point that the parasite drug has any impact on preventing the coronavirus.
“I am a little surprised I guess that there are people who want to take a veterinary medicine that is not FDA approved but then, you know, don’t want to take the vaccine that has had, you know, really widespread human trials and is [FDA] approved,” Arwady said.
The FDA has also urged people to stop taking the veterinary drug to treat or prevent COVID after receiving multiple reports of patients who have been hospitalized after “self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses,” according to the federal agency.
“You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” the FDA tweeted from its official account on Saturday, alongside a consumer update detailing why the drug can be unsafe for humans.
The World Health Organization is monitoring a new coronavirus variant called “mu,” which the agency says is now labeled a “variant of interest,” and although the variant is not yet on the list being monitored by U.S. health officials, cases have been reported in Illinois.
According to outbreak.info, a Scripps Research project tracking COVID-19 genomic data such as lineages and mutations, as many as 21 cases have been identified in Illinois between the months of April and August, representing what is estimated to be less than 0.5% of cases in the state.
The group notes, however, that because its data is not a random sampling of mutations, it “does not indicate the true prevalence of the mutations but rather our best estimate now.”