SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Health officials are reminding Utahns to not take ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19. This comes after the Utah Department of Health says they learned of a patient who ingested large doses of ivermectin in an attempt to treat symptoms of COVID-19.

According to UDOH, that patient suffered serious health effects and was taken to a Utah hospital.

“Ivermectin is NOT a COVID-19 drug; there is no data to suggest this drug has any impact on COVID-19 infection,” UDOH reminds. The CDC, the American Association of Poison Control Centers, and the Utah Poison Control have all reported an increase in calls related to severe side effects due to ivermectin.

“I strongly encourage clinical providers to consider the harm they may cause if they provide ivermectin to patients with COVID-19 infection. While there is no data showing it helps with COVID-19 there is very strong data showing it can do harm. I also encourage pharmacists to question any prescriptions for high-dose ivermectin that is inappropriate for their clients,” says Dr. Leisha Nolen, State epidemiologist at the UDOH.

At the Utah Poison Control Center alone, reported ivermectin exposures are 4.5 times higher in 2021 over 2020.

“Ivermectin exposures related to the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 account for 56% of exposures reported to us for this drug in 2021. Fifty percent of people who called us after using ivermectin as a way to treat or prevent COVID-19 have received medical help because of the exposure,” says Amberly Johnson, director of the Utah Poison Control Center.

Ivermectin is commonly used to treat horses and other livestock for worms. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about using ivermectin in August, saying, “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.” While ivermectin can be found in tablets that have been approved “at very specific doses for parasitic worms” and some topical formulations for head lice and skin conditions, the FDA says ivermectin is not an anti-viral, a drug to treat viruses.

Taking a large dose of ivermectin is dangerous and can cause serious harm, the FDA continues. As UDOH and the FDA have reported, there is no evidence ivermectin can treat or prevent COVID-19. Self-treatment of COVID-19 with ivermectin can cause serious injury and hospitalization, according to health experts.

“The recent uptick in reports of ivermectin misuse are concerning. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food does not endorse the misuse of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 and encourages individuals to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before undergoing any course of treatment,” says Dr. Dean Taylor, State Veterinarian.

In addition to the dangers taking ivermectin can pose to your health, the American Veterinary Medical Association warns this can lead to shortages for veterinary use of ivermectin products to treat livestock.

If you have questions about COVID-19, UDOH encourages you to speak with your healthcare provider. UDOH says the most effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. If you have taken ivermectin and are worried about side effects, call the Utah Poison Control Center. Poison specialists are available 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222. For emergencies, call 911.