COVID-19 Warning

A sign warns against use of vaccines, wormers and medications intended for animals by humans. Some horse medicines are being taken for COVID-19, causing severe illness.

The CDC issued a health advisory today about a rapid increase in ivermectin prescriptions — now up 24-fold over pre-pandemic levels — and reports of severe illness associated with use of ivermectin products to prevent or treat COVID-19, according to North Central Public Health (NCPHD) in The Dalles.

Ivermectin is not FDA approved for use in preventing or treating COVID, and has not been proven as a way to prevent or treat it. Calls to poison control centers have gone up nationwide as a result of people taking ivermectin improperly, NCPHD reported.

Ivermectin is approved for prescription use in people to treat conditions like parasitic worms, head lice and rosacea. Veterinary ivermectin is also sold over the counter as a de-wormer for animals.

Locally, Coastal Farm & Ranch in The Dalles has put up signs warning that its ivermectin products are for animal use only. The sign says, in part, “Despite media reports that Ivermectin could potentially be used to treat people with Covid-19, these products are not safe and are not approved for humans.”

Large enough, well-designed and well-conducted trials are needed to provide more guidance on the role of ivermectin in treatment of COVID.

Nationally, calls to poison control centers in January 2021 were triple what they were pre-pandemic. By July, it was five times the pre-pandemic level.

In 2020, the Oregon Poison Control Center saw just three cases of intentional misuse of ivermectin, fielding nine calls this month alone.

Ivermectin products meant for large animals, such as “sheep drench” injections and “pour-on” for cattle, can be highly concentrated and result in overdoses when used by humans.

The Dalles Fred Meyer Pharmacist Ashley West reports ivermectin prescriptions have gone way up. She noted prescriptions were coming from doctors in Florida and Colorado, although some prescriptions came from local doctors.

West could tell something was amiss in a prescription because the dosage was too high for the normal use of the drug.

She told a few customers she would not fill the prescriptions for that reason. She said they got them filled at another pharmacy.

Because of the spike in ivermectin prescriptions, Fred Meyer at this time does not have any available for patients with legitimate uses for it, she said.

Taking too much ivermectin can cause nausea, vomiting, confusion, hallucinations, dizziness, headache, fast heart rate, seizures and even death. Seek immediate attention or call the poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222 for advice if you have taken ivermectin and are having symptoms.

The best way to prevent COVID is to get vaccinated. Every local pharmacy in The Dalles offers walk-in appointments. One Community Health and Mid-Columbia Medical Center outpatient clinics all offer the vaccine by appointment, as does North Central Public Health District. Call NCPHD at 541-506-2600 to book an appointment.

All Wasco County residents get a $50 VISA card for their first dose, whether they get it at a pharmacy, doctor’s office or the health district. If you get it from a pharmacy, you will get a sticker on your vaccine card, which you must present to NCPHD, at 419 E. 7th St., to get the gift card.

The CDC health advisory can be found at emergency.cdc.gov.