Severe Ivermectin poisoning is on the rise in Oklahoma as health facilities struggle with finding enough hospital beds for people exacerbating a new outbreak and surge of cases of COVID-19 in the state.

Ivermectin, a livestock and horse dewormer, has been amplified by right-wing media and conservative personalities as a possible treatment and prevention medicine for COVID-19, despite having no conclusive proof to back their claims, the New York Daily News reported.

As a consequence, people are being rushed to hospitals in droves due to self-medicating with ivermectin made for horses, as they exhibit serious symptoms like nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and cramping, according to Oklahoma News 4.

In severe cases, seizures, low blood pressure, and vision loss are also reported.

“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,” Dr. Jason McElyea, a doctor based in Oklahoma, said. “If there’s no ambulance to take the call, there’s no ambulance to come to the call.”

McElyea remarks that some of the conditions suffered by people self-medicating with ivermectin are potentially fatal: “Some people taking inappropriate doses have actually put themselves in worse conditions than if they’d caught COVID.”

Shelves of ivermectin in local agricultural stores have largely been sold out, preventing ranchers from using it to treat their livestock, and creating a worry that the dewormer might get pulled out of circulation, causing a massive shortage in the meat industry, according to KTEN.

“If it becomes abused, eventually — if people are getting sick, fatalities, things of that nature — the authorities will remove that product,” Scott Mason of Agri Products said. “There are a lot of farmers out there that are using that product in the right way for the correct circumstances.”

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information has come out with a statement trying to dissuade people from taking the ivermectin dewormer.

“Never use medications intended for animals on yourself. Many animal drugs are available in different concentrations than those used for humans,” Scott Schaeffer, managing director of the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information, said. 

“[T]here is the potential for an excessive dose to cause toxic effects.”

The Federal Food and Drug Administration has recently doubled down on warning against using ivermectin to treat COVID-19 following a rise in ivermectin poisoning, noting it is not an antiviral.

“FDA has not approved ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans," the post read. "Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea."

david-dibert-Huza8QOO3tc-unsplash Horse dewormer Ivermectin has caused a surge in poisoning cases that has forcibly backed up emergency rooms across Oklahoma, already overwhelmed by surging COVID-19 cases. This is a representational image. David Dibert/Unsplash.