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Misused drug is increasing calls to Kansas poison control centers

Coronavirus in Kansas


TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) — State health experts are urging Kansans not to take the drug ivermectin unless a doctor prescribes it and only take as much as prescribed.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) says there has been a rise in calls to poison control centers in Kansas and visits to emergency rooms because people have been taking doses meant for large animals.

The KDHE says doctors may prescribe ivermectin for specific skin conditions or some parasitic worms. But the Food and Drug Administration has not authorized the drug for treating or preventing COVID-19.

Ivermectin is also a horse dewormer. The KDHE says ivermectin doses for large animals are highly concentrated and can be highly toxic to people.

“Kansans should avoid taking medications that are intended for animals and should only take ivermectin as prescribed by their physician,” Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE secretary, said in a statement. “These highly concentrated doses can cause severe illness and even death in humans. The COVID-19 vaccine remains the most effective way to prevent COVID-19.”

The KDHE says symptoms of an ivermectin overdose include:

  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Hypotension/low blood pressure
  • Neurologic effects
    * Decreased consciousness
    * Confusion
    * Hallucinations
    * Seizures
    * Coma
    * Death

In addition, ivermectin may intensify the effects of other drugs that cause central nervous system depression, such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates.

The KDHE says the safest and most effective way to prevent getting sick from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. It also says wearing a mask, washing your hands, and social distancing will help stop the spread of the virus.

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