“You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”

That is a legitimate tweet from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in an attempt to get people to stop self-medicating their COVID-19 symptoms with ivermectin, an actual livestock dewormer.

Up until college, I owned a horse, so ivermectin and I are pretty well-acquainted. Every six months, I spent an absurd amount of time in the kitchen, mixing ivermectin with every tasty treat my horse loved to try to disguise it. I even ordered special, apple-flavored ivermectin that was marketed toward horses who were difficult to deworm. But, despite my best effort, it was always a battle to make a (rather stubborn) 1,250 lb beast take medicine he did not want to take. 

So you can imagine how dumbfounded I was when I discovered conservative media, politicians, and even some doctors were promoting that same drug as a “miracle cure” to COVID-19. And people were actually taking it.

Let me take a step back and make something clear here. Yes, ivermectin is used in human medicine to treat internal and external parasites. But human ivermectin and animal ivermectin are vastly different. Human ivermectin has only been approved in very specific dosages, and you generally have to have a prescription to get it. Animal ivermectin, on the other hand, is highly concentrated, and humans are way more likely to overdose on it. Neither have any proven anti-viral properties that could improve symptoms of COVID-19. 

And the crazy part is that these are not isolated events. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the number of calls to poison control centers about ivermectin increased five times from the normal rate in July. Ivermectin overdoses have hospitalized many, and some of those overdoses were fatal. These people generally experienced vomiting, seizures, hallucinations, low blood pressure, decreased consciousness, confusion, and comas. 

What is wrong with us? This feels a lot like 2018 when the Tide Pod Challenge took over the Internet. Are we really choosing self-medicating with horse dewormer over genuine medical advice? Are we so gullible that we stock up on ivermectin because Aunt Becky shared a meme on Facebook about it “miraculously” curing COVID-19? Are we really going to take medicine not even made for humans just because our third cousin, Bubba, said it was okay? 

Don’t get me wrong; Even though I was vaccinated earlier this year, I understand being apprehensive of the vaccines. But it’s ironic that some refuse to get vaccinated because they “don’t know what chemicals are in it” and then turn around and drug themselves with livestock medicine. It is even more ironic that some people don’t trust the research of multiple, well-qualified medical scientists but will risk their lives because some stranger on the Internet, who has probably never seen the inside of a medical school, recommended ivermectin.

Ivermectin as a “miracle cure” for coronavirus proves just how gullible we are, and it’s actually terrifying. Whichever side of the COVID-19 debate you are on, do better.

Ashley Wilkinson is the sports reporter for The Henderson News. Her email is ©2021, Henderson Newspapers Inc.

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