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Texas Panhandle Poison Center sees increase in calls regarding ivermectin exposure

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 8:13 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Texas poison centers have seen an 83 percent increase in calls relating to ivermectin exposure just over the month of July.

The Texas Panhandle Poison Center said it has had 19 calls from the region this year and 291 calls statewide.

The center said most of the calls it’s receiving are from people who are ingesting the version of ivermectin that is used for animals.

“I can see that many of them are from people ingesting ivermectin intended for horses, which is extremely dangerous, so we’re hoping to get the word out to the public to just please not attempt to use this medication particularly the version intended for animals for treatment or prevention of COVID,” said Jeanie Jaramillo-Stametz, PharmD, managing director, Texas Panhandle Poison Center at TTUHSC-Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy.

She said the affects they have seen are relatively minor, but she has concerns if people continue to try to use ivermectin to treat COVID-19 there will be worse reactions such as, seizures or possibly result in death.

“What we are seeing in our cases is diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, some cases of central nervous system affects like dizziness, difficulty walking those are more for higher does for the more severe affects,” said Jarmillo-Stametz.

The poison control center along with one Amarillo health expert say they believe people are using ivermectin as an act of desperation for something that works.

“In the abstinence of having a pill that people can take there is a tendency and I think this is a somewhat unique American tendency to grab some other pill and see if maybe it works, and so we’ve seen this through the course of this pandemic is that people have pulled things off the shelf that were meant for something else and they said well let’s just give this a try, let’s see what happens,” said Dr. Todd Bell, associate professor, TTUHSC.

He said ivermectin should not be used for COVID-19 treatment.

“The best way to be able to treat it is first of all by prevent it after that it’s a matter of making sure that we’re staying hydrated, that we’re making sure we’re not infecting others, we want to be able to stay upright we don’t want to just lay in bed on our backs all day try to sleep on your belly more than on your back when you are in bed and try to stay up and active and moving,” said Dr. Bell.

He said for those who do develop problems with their breathing and require hospitalization they have a different set up treatments they can use in the hospital, however he says those things they use in the hospital don’t work in the outpatient setting.

“Ivermectin is great for animals and people in certain situations, if they have worms or other types of parasites, but when it comes to COVID-19 we recommend, as does the FDA, as does every major medical group, we recommend that we leave the ivermectin for deworming and for COVID try to prevent it,” said Dr. Bell.

The managing director of the poison center says the best advice they can give is to get vaccinated and if you choose not to get the vaccine then make sure to social distance, wear your mask and wash your hands.

The Texas Panhandle Poison Center says if you have tried ivermectin to not hesitate to call the center and talk to the nurses about what you have taken and any affects you may have had.

The center can help you determine if you need to see a doctor or go to the emergency room.

You can call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222.

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