Rural Oklahoma hospitals overwhelmed by people overdosing on ivermectin

Overdoses from anti-parasite drug ivermectin overwhelm rural Oklahoma hospitals – leaving gunshot victims waiting for emergency rooms

  • Hospitals in rural southeast Oklahoma are struggling with a surge of ivermectin overdose patients
  • So many patients are coming in with overdoses of the horse-grade medicine that other serious injuries – like gunshot wounds – have to wait
  • Ivermectin is FDA approved for human use fighting some parasite-related conditions, but has not demonstrated that it can fight viruses in humans
  • Many are purchasing versions of the drug meant for horses and other large animals, where doses are dangerous for humans 

So many rural Oklahomans are overdosing on horse medication that it is overwhelming local hospitals.

Dr Jason McElyea, a physician from Sallisaw, Oklahoma in the Southeast of the state, told Oklahoma City’s KFOR that hospitals in his region are being clogged with  patients overdosing on ivermectin after using the drug to treat COVID-19.

Many people are using ivermectin, which is FDA approved for human use in some situations, in doses meant for large animals like horses and overdosing.

The volume of overdoses has become a problem for the whole community, as people needing treatment for other issues, like gunshot victims, are left waiting in peril for emergency room space. 

Dr Jason McElyea (pictured) told Oklahoma City’s KFOR that so many people in his rural Oklahoma community are overdosing on ivermectin it is overwhelming some local hospitals

‘There’s a reason you have to have a doctor to get a prescription for this stuff, because it can be dangerous,’ McElyea told KFOR about the drug. 

‘…the ERs are so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities where they can get definitive care and be treated.’

The surge in overdoses has led to ambulances being backed up with calls as well.

‘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,’ the doctor told KFOR. 

‘If there’s no ambulance to take the call, there’s no ambulance to come to the call.’ 

Ivermectin is safe to use in doses of around 200 micrograms, and is often prescribed to people at those levels for conditions like onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis.

It is not a treatment for viruses like Covid, though, and has never demonstrated an ability to fight viral infections in humans.

The anti-parasite drug has been incorrectly deemed by some to be a potential treatment for COVID-19 after some misinterpreted a March 2020 study conducted in Australia.

Ivermectin is FDA approved for human use in fighting some parasite-related conditions. It has no known ability to fight viruses in the human body

Ivermectin is FDA approved for human use in fighting some parasite-related conditions. It has no known ability to fight viruses in the human body

Dr Timothy Geary, one of the world’s foremost experts on the drug, explained to that the concentrations of the drug used in the study, which did show ivermectin could inhibit virus replication, was so high it could not be used in a person.

The drug can be dangerous is large doses and cause many potentially devastating side effects like blindness, nervous system damage or even death.

McElyea reports that many in his community are using the drug at dangerously high doses.

Many have failed to acquire the drug via prescription, and instead purchase veterinary versions of it over the counter at feed stores.   

A standard dose for a horse is much larger than a dose for a human, though, causing people to overdose when using versions of the drug made for livestock.

‘Some people taking inappropriate doses have actually put themselves in worse conditions than if they’d caught COVID,’ McElyea said. 

He told KFOR that he has seen patients suffering from cramps, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting.

The worst cases has has seen are people coming in with vision loss after taking the drug.

McElyea reports that tractor store in his area have sold out of the drug, and he implores others in his community not to self-medicate using the potentially dangerous drug.

‘You have to ask yourself, ‘If I take this medicine, what am I going to do if something bad happens?’ What’s your next step, what’s your backup plan?’ he said. 

‘If you’re going to take a medicine that could affect your health, do it with a doctor on board.

‘…It’s not just something you look on the internet for and decide if it’s the right dose.’ 


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