Toxicologists warn that homemade remedies for treating or preventing the coronavirus could have dangerous consequences, with poison centers reporting an increase in cases related to do-it-yourself attempts at treatment.
“Poison centers are still responding to events related to COVID-19,” Julie Weber, president of the American Association of Poison Control Centers and Missouri Poison Center director, told ABC News on Friday. “On average, we are getting over 40 to 50 calls per day in addition to what we would normally get pre-pandemic.”
Weber notes that the drug ivermectin, which is used to treat parasitic infections, has become a go-to for people attempting to treat themselves despite a lack of information about how to use the drug to treat the coronavirus.
“We just had a case of someone using a veterinary source of ivermectin, a horse medication, that contains a significantly larger dose of the drug,” she said.
Dr. Joshua Nogar, emergency medicine physician and director of the medical toxicology fellowship at Northwell Health, pointed to a surge in calls related to bleach, hand sanitizer, and other cleaning products.
“People are drinking hand sanitizer” as well as “taking almost any kind of cleaner or sterilant and using it on their skin because they think it will kill the virus, but these substances can be harmful to people as well,” Nogar said, noting that the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning last month regarding imported hand sanitizers being especially dangerous if ingested.
“There have been some notable, very unfortunate occurrences of people who have fatally ingested pool cleaner because they were told it could kill COVID-19,” he said.
“There is so much information available to us, and no accountability for ‘facts’ that are being put out there,” Nogar added. “We should take all of the information that we consume on the internet with a grain of salt.”
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