Published on October 13, 2021

COVID Cases Surge

Butte County Public Health discourages use of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

Ivermectin pill bottle

Officials Warn Against Using Ivermectin

Across the world, the U.S. and California, COVID-19 cases are surging. The same is true right here in the North State. As of Oct. 6, there were 79 people in Butte County hospitals due to the virus and 408 were in isolation, according to Butte County Public Health.

“The majority of the cases — especially those who are seriously ill or hospitalized — is happening in people who remain either unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated. However, we are also seeing more cases among children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination,” said Danette York, BCPH’s Director, during a recent press conference.

Officials have also seen more breakthrough cases, or cases among people who are fully vaccinated. Most of those cases are mild, and people experience cold-like symptoms or no symptoms at all, but they can still spread the virus, York added.

“[The increase is] likely due to the Delta variant, which studies now show is at least twice as infectious as the original COVID virus,” she said. That variant is predominant in Butte County.

“[The increase is] likely due to the Delta variant, which studies now show is at least twice as infectious as the original COVID virus,” said Danette York, Butte County Public Health’s Director.

To stay safe, officials recommend people continue wearing masks, washing their hands frequently and staying home if they’re sick. They also recommend seeing a provider and only taking proven medications.

A Dangerous Trend

Some have turned to other drugs like Ivermectin, a medicine that comes in different forms: one meant for humans, another for animals. It can be used to treat parasites in animals and to treat infections caused by some parasites and skin conditions in humans. In April 2020, researchers reported that high doses of Ivermectin killed COVID-19 in test tubes, said Andy Miller, M.D., Enloe’s Community Health Physician.

“Based on this information, and in the absence of other proven prevention and treatments at that time, people latched on to Ivermectin,” he said. That’s despite the Food and Drug Administration not approving the drug to help prevent or treat COVID-19.

People can overdose on the medicine, resulting in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, dizziness, seizures, coma and even death. Yet this year, poison control centers throughout the country saw a three-fold increase in the number of calls for human exposure to Ivermectin in January and a five-fold increase in July, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Butte County, a few cases of people taking Ivermectin for COVID-19 have been reported, and the Enloe Outpatient Pharmacy has received calls from residents around the state asking whether it would fill prescriptions for such use, Miller said, adding that the pharmacy will not fill those requests. Some people who are taking Ivermectin have also come to Enloe’s Emergency department.

“The FDA, the CDC, the California Department of Public Health and Butte County Public Health do not want people using Ivermectin. There is insufficient evidence that it does any good and there is significant evidence that it can do harm,” said Andy Miller, M.D., Enloe’s Community Health Physician.

He discourages folks from using the medication for COVID-19.

“The FDA, the CDC, the California Department of Public Health and Butte County Public Health do not want people using Ivermectin,” Miller said. “There is insufficient evidence that it does any good and there is significant evidence that it can do harm.”

Instead, he recommends people get their COVID-19 vaccine if they haven’t already.

“Vaccines have been proven safe and effective,” he said. “They protect the person who gets vaccinated, the people around them and the entire community. The sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner we can return to normal.”