UK HealthCare

Ivermectin and COVID-19

Photo credit: RafaPress, iStock / Getty Images Plus.

The University of Kentucky Public Relations and Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column is by Frank Romanelli, Pharm.D., Paul F. Parker Endowed Professor and associate dean in the UK College of Pharmacy.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sep. 20, 2021) 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.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.