Southern Nevada Health District Statement on Ivermectin
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 25, 2021
For the past 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Southern Nevadans have endured shut-downs, donned masked, socially distanced, taken COVID-19 tests, and more than 70 percent of adults in our community have had at least one shot – all in an effort to keep themselves, their families and community safe and healthy.
These efforts are commendable, and it is understandable that after more than a year of responding to the pandemic people are looking for additional, and unconventional tools and treatments that may help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, people are turning to untested, unauthorized, and in many cases unsafe treatments for COVID-19. Recently, there has been increased interest in a drug called ivermectin. Ivermectin is a drug used in the United States to treat or prevent parasites in animals and for specific uses in humans. The doses and forms for humans and animals are different. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been receiving reports of patients who have been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses.
Here is What the FDA Wants You to Know About Ivermectin:
- FDA has not approved ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans. Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice, scabies and skin conditions like rosacea. Ivermectin is not an anti-viral (a drug for treating viruses).
- Taking large doses of this drug without medical advice is dangerous and can cause serious harm.
- If you have a prescription for ivermectin for an FDA-approved use, get it from a legitimate source and take it exactly as prescribed.
- Never use medications intended for animals on yourself. Ivermectin preparations for animals are very different from those approved for humans.
What is Ivermectin and How is it Used?
Ivermectin tablets are approved by the FDA to treat people with intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis, two conditions caused by parasitic worms. In addition, some topical (on the skin) forms of ivermectin are approved to treat external parasites like head lice and for skin conditions such as rosacea.
Some forms of ivermectin are used in animals to prevent heartworm disease and certain internal and external parasites. It’s important to note that these products are different from the ones for people, and safe when used as prescribed for animals, only.
When Can Taking Ivermectin Be Unsafe?
The FDA has not reviewed data to support use of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients to treat or to prevent COVID-19. Taking a drug for an unapproved use can be very dangerous. This is true of ivermectin, too.
There’s a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it’s okay to take large doses of ivermectin. That is wrong.
Even the levels of ivermectin for approved uses can interact with other medications, like blood-thinners. You can also overdose on ivermectin, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death.
Ivermectin Products for Animals Are Different from Ivermectin Products for People
For one thing, animal drugs are often highly concentrated because they are used for large animals like horses and cows, which can weigh a lot more than we do—a ton or more. Such high doses can be highly toxic in humans.
Moreover, FDA reviews drugs not just for safety and effectiveness of the active ingredients, but also for the inactive ingredients. Many inactive ingredients found in animal products aren’t evaluated for use in people. Or they are included in much greater quantity than those used in people. In some cases, we don’t know how those inactive ingredients will affect how ivermectin is absorbed in the human body.
Getting fully vaccinated, staying home if you are sick, getting tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or were in contact with a confirmed or suspect case, wearing a mask in public indoor places, and washing your hands frequently are effective actions you can take to protect yourself and others. Additional information is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) website.
For more information and resources go to www.snhd.info/covid.
The Southern Nevada Health District serves as the local public health authority for Clark County, Boulder City, Henderson, Las Vegas, Mesquite and North Las Vegas. The agency safeguards the public health of the community’s residents and visitors through innovative programs, regulations, and initiatives focused on protecting and promoting their health and well-being. More information about the Health District, its programs, services, and the regulatory oversight it provides is available at www.SNHD.info.