Animal supply stores report shortage of Ivermectin as people self-medicate for COVID-19

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Animal supply stores are facing a drug shortage. Ivermectin, a de-wormer used to treat parasites in horses and cattle, is being consumed by people who believe it treats and prevents COVID-19, despite health officials saying that has yet to be proven.

It’s flying off the shelves at the Tractor Supply Co. in Yulee, which is now completely out of the drug, an employee says.

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Other Tractor Supply stores in Jacksonville, Orange Park, and St. Johns County are also out, a manager said, adding that his Yulee store is getting several calls a day from people asking for the drug.

”I can definitely understand the security and things that come along with COVID, and while a lot of people are using it, but they should not be using it on themselves,” Tractor Supply team leader Blake Smith said. “All people from different walks of life come in asking for it, numerous phone calls from people looking for it.”

Action News Jax reached out to Florida Poison Control and learned calls for Ivermectin exposures have increased dramatically. There were 74 exposures statewide from January to August. In August alone, that number was 39 — more than half of all cases recorded this year.

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”Dear Lord, do not take Ivermectin for COVID,” Action News Jax medical expert Dr. Michelle Aquino said.

She says there’s no evidence that Ivermectin prevents or treats COVID-19, and, if taken, it has some nasty side effects.

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”Grab your horse’s Ivermectin, it’s gonna be a little bit too much for you and you will become toxic,” she explained. “You will have nausea, muscle cramping, significant diarrhea; and those are just the mild side effects.”

Aquino says studies are being done on Ivermectin for human use to find out if it really does prevent and treat COVID-19, but in the meantime, she says to save it for the animals.