Mississippi health officials say 70% of recent calls relate to people using livestock drug to treat COVID
Horses in stable (Shutterstock)

As the Delta variant of COVID ravages the southeastern region of the United States, officials in a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates are pleading with residents to refrain from using a livestock drug to treat COVID-19.

Approximately 70% of recent calls to the Mississippi Poison Control Center are in reference to Ivermectin ingestion, according to notice released by the Mississippi Department of Health. Many individuals who called the center have mild COVID symptoms. The center is warning that the livestock drug, which is concentrated for larger animals, "can be highly toxic to humans."

According to NPR.org, Mississippi health officials are sounding the alarm about residents using a livestock drug called Ivermectin as an alternative method of treatment for those suffering from COVID-19.

On Monday, Satruday, August 21, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released brief statement via Twitter addressing the issue. The short tweet read, "You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it."

In a detailed statement, the agency offered more comprehensive remarks explaining why the drug should be avoided for use in people.

"Many inactive ingredients found in animal products aren't evaluated for use in people," the statement from the agency said. "Or they are included in much greater quantity than those used in people. In some cases, we don't know how those inactive ingredients will affect how ivermectin is absorbed in the human body."

In another statement, acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock on Monday emphasized that the authorized COVID vaccines are the best way to mitigate the spread of the virus.

"While this and other vaccines have met the FDA's rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product," Woodcock said in a statement.

She also added, "While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated."