If you have seen stories suggesting the use of ivermectin, a so-called “miracle cure” medication, for COVID-19 — beware.

While the drug can be prescribed in humans to treat various parasites, scabies or highly resistant cases of lice, ivermectin is most commonly used in livestock as an anti-parasitic. There are no proven benefits for its use in treating COVID-19.

Veterinarians often prescribe ivermectin as a de-wormer for livestock, most commonly horses. The drug is used so frequently to treat animals that you can generally find it sold over-the-counter in feed and pet stores. It is important to note that the dosages intended for use in animals, particularly horses, are much larger than those used in humans. Therefore, a human taking even a single dose of ivermectin which is intended for use in animals could experience dangerous consequences.

Some risks associated with high doses of ivermectin include:

  • Allergic reactions.
  • Serious skin reactions including severe rashes.
  • Seizures.
  • Cardiovascular issues, including low blood pressure.
  • Visual disturbances.
  • Vaccines remain the safest and most effective preventative measure against COVID-19. They are proven to prevent severe COVID-19 disease, hospitalization and death.

If you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms, you should quarantine yourself and contact your health care provider for further advice. Seek medical attention immediately if your symptoms worsen. If you live with, or are in close contact with others, wear a mask. You should never attempt to treat COVID-19 with over-the-counter or veterinary medications or at-home remedies without seeking guidance from your physician or pharmacist.

Frank Romanelli, Pharm.D., Paul F. Parker Endowed Professor and associate dean in the UK College of Pharmacy. Reprinted with permission, University of Kentucky.