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Some Kelowna residents are seeking out horse dewormer to treat COVID-19

Horse standing next to a fence

A wave of misinformation online has people scrambling for livestock ivermectin in Kelowna, and it may have harmful effects.

Several feed and tack stores in Kelowna have received numerous inquiries about the medication, which is usually used to treat parasite infestations in pets and large animals. People come in several times a week inquiring about the medication, one employee from Kelowna’s Greenhawk Equestrian Sport said. Another employee at Diamond H. Tack in Kelowna said that a lot of people have asked to purchase ivermectin but they need to have a veterinary account in order to do so.

“We don’t keep count of how many people have tried to purchase the medication, but we can definitely say that people have been asking about it,” said the Diamond H. Tack employee.

Several other shops around the Okanagan have received similar requests.

While a form of ivermectin that is safe for human consumption exists, it is not approved to treat or prevent COVID-19, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA). Taking large doses is also dangerous and can cause serious harm since ivermectin used for livestock is dosed much higher than when it’s used for humans.

Overdosing on ivermectin can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, dizziness, problems with balance, seizures coma and even death.

The misinformation is so rampant that even the U.S. FDA has published a tweet about it. The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to get a COVID-19 vaccine, it said.

Dr. Moshe Oz, a vet at Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital, is also asking people to stop buying horse ivermectin for COVID-19. “I wouldn’t recommend using ivermectin to treat COVID-19, especially ivermectin for animals such as horses and dogs,” said Oz.