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Local officials express frustration as ivermectin poison control calls triple statewide

A container of veterinary ivermectin in Johannesburg, South Africa. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

The Washington Poison Center continues to get calls from people asking for medical help after taking ivermectin, or requesting information about ivermectin.

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Already this year, there have been more than triple last year’s calls stemming from the veterinary drug statewide, totaling 31 in all.

People are buying the anti-parasitic in animal supply stores and taking it to try to prevent or treat COVID-19. That began after a study out of Egypt claimed it was 90% effective at preventing COVID-19.

The study was not peer reviewed, and scientists and researchers have since pointed out several glaring issues. That included patients with altered data, some who were duplicated, and other data that was changed after the study was published. The study was retracted and is under investigation over allegations of data manipulation, but not before reports of ivermectin overdoses began to flood in across the country.

Some medical doctors prescribe ivermectin to treat head lice, worms, and skin conditions in horses, cattle, sheep, and others, but the drug maker has not endorsed any human use.

The American Medical Association says there is no proof it is an effective treatment for COVID-19, while the Washington State Department of Health issued a warning of its own last week, urging people to not take the drug to treat coronavirus.

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Local health officials have also expressed frustration, citing the contrast in public opinion between the actual vaccine and unproven, hazardous treatments like ivermectin.

“Here we have an effective vaccine that we’re having a hard time getting people to take, but people are clamoring for a drug that’s ineffective and potentially dangerous,” Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. Spitters said during a Tuesday briefing.

Side effects of ivermectin can include, but are not limited to, skin rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, facial or limb swelling, dizziness, seizures, confusion, a sudden drop in blood pressure, and liver injury.

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