SOUTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA, Okla. (KFOR) – A rural Oklahoma doctor said patients who are taking the horse de-wormer medication, ivermectin, to fight COVID-19 are causing emergency room and ambulance back ups.
“There’s a reason you have to have a doctor to get a prescription for this stuff, because it can be dangerous,” said Dr. Jason McElyea.
Dr. McElyea said patients are packing his eastern and southeastern Oklahoma hospitals after taking ivermectin doses meant for a full-sized horse, because they believed false claims the horse de-wormer could fight COVID-19.
“The ERs are so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities where they can get definitive care and be treated,” he said.
That’s something McElyea said is now backing up ambulance systems as well.
“All of their ambulances are stuck at the hospital waiting for a bed to open so they can take the patient in and they don’t have any, that’s it,” said Dr. McElyea. “If there’s no ambulance to take the call, there’s no ambulance to come to the call.”
The doctor said many of his patients aren’t afraid of ivermectin. Many of them have used it on their livestock.
“Growing up in a small town, rural area, we’ve all accidentally been exposed to ivermectin at some time. So, it’s something people are familiar with. Because of those accidental sticks, when trying to inoculate cattle, they’re less afraid of it,” he said.
Now, the rural patients are going into their local agricultural or tractor supply store, ignoring the warning signs surrounding the products, and figuring out a dosage themselves.
“Some people taking inappropriate doses have actually put themselves in worse conditions than if they’d caught COVID,” said the doctor.
Dr. McElyea said the patients are suffering from nausea, vomiting, muscle aches and cramping, and that’s only in minor cases.
“The scariest one that I’ve heard of and seen is people coming in with vision loss,” he said.
Even the manufacturer states there is no scientific basis or meaningful evidence Ivermectin is effective against COVID. However, many of the tractor supply stores say their shelves are empty.
“You have to ask yourself, ‘If I take this medicine, what am I going to do if something bad happens?’ What’s your next step, what’s your backup plan?” the doctor said. “If you’re going to take a medicine that could affect your health, do it with a doctor on board. Make those decisions with a thoroughly vetted opinion. There’s a lot of schooling that goes into that. It’s not just something you look on the internet for and decide if it’s the right dose.”