The misguided use of the horse de-worming medication Ivermectin is so bad in parts of Oklahoma, it’s preventing some hospitals from treating other patients

One rural Oklahoma doctor told local news station KFOR that patients who are taking the horse medication and becoming ill are putting a big strain on emergency rooms and creating longer waits for ambulances.

“There’s a reason you have to have a doctor to get a prescription for this stuff, because it can be dangerous,” said Dr. Jason McElyea, a doctor in southeastern Oklahoma.

“Some people taking inappropriate doses have actually put themselves in worse conditions than if they’d caught COVID.”

People keep taking doses of Ivermectin that are meant for a full-sized horse, because they are believing the false claims that the horse de-wormer could fight off the effects of COVID-19. The CDC and FDA have warned people against taking Ivermectin.

It should be noted there is a form of Ivermectin meant to be used by humans to treat parasites, but that can only be prescribed by a doctor. The more common form is the horse de-wormer found at livestock stores.

But the growing chorus of voices — like influential podcast Joe Rogan — who say they’ve taken Ivermectin continues to feed the misinformation loop to dangerous degrees. In addition, a good number of people rural areas like eastern and southeastern Oklahoma grew up on or around farms, so they’ve likely been exposed to ivermectin at some time. That makes them a bit less apprehensive about taking the medication, says Dr. McElyea.

Those people are now heading to local agricultural or tractor supply stores, ignoring the warning signs about the product, and sometimes taking a dangerous amount.

There’s also concern that the reckless use of Ivermectin could wind up being a big problem for area farmers, who need the drug to protect their livestock from parasites.