PHOENIX – Residents of Arizona are poisoning themselves with medicine for horses and cattle, believing it will prevent or fight COVID-19.
Banner Health clinical director Dr Marjorie Bessel said on Wednesday her organization’s poison control center handled just 10 cases in August of people who fell ill after taking ivermectin, “some so severe that they required treatment. hospitalization”.
It has apparently become the latest claim of those looking for alternatives to vaccinations.
“Ivermectin is usually not something our poison control center gets many calls for,” Bessel said. “So it’s very worrying for us to see this growing trend. “
All of this comes as the Department of Health Services reports 2,432 new cases and 29 deaths. This brings the total number of deaths in Arizona to 19,333.
At the same time, hospitals statewide are reporting they only have 129 beds in intensive care units, a figure not seen since last November.
Only a third of these are occupied by COVID patients, half the rate during the last peak.
There is a similar usage pattern for regular inpatient beds.
But Bessel said many of the other non-COVID patients who now fill those beds are often the ones who postpone routine checkups and procedures during the height of the virus.
“As a result, there has been a delay in treatment for some of these patients,” she said. “There was a late diagnosis for some of these patients. “
And Bessell said there had been “unusually high activity” for other respiratory viruses.
This level of hospital use has also resulted in what she called “day-to-day” decisions about whether there are staff and space for certain types of surgeries and surgeries. interventions can be performed.
Bessel’s briefing comes as a judge assesses the legality of a measure approved by lawmakers and signed by Governor Doug Ducey that bans schools from requiring staff and students to wear masks. The challengers argue that the provision was illegally enacted. And in the meantime, some districts have imposed such mandates anyway.
The doctor repeatedly dodged the question of whether she agreed with the new law.
But she said there is clear evidence that at least some children are contracting the virus in the classroom. Specifically, Bessel said the information shows the masks are working.
“We are keenly aware that the school epidemics that occur in Maricopa County occur at a much higher frequency in schools and school districts where masking warrants are not in place,” Bessel said.
She is not the only one to refuse to take a position on the new law.
In a blog posted by the state’s health department on Wednesday, Dr Richard Carmona, chosen by Ducey to be his health adviser, also refused to defer or publicly debate the views of his new boss who s ‘opposes mask warrants, even though he acknowledged that there were public health recommendations for everyone to wear a mask indoors as the spread of COVID is significant.
“We can’t let shrill arguments about whether or not to impose masks and vaccines distract from the real problem: not enough of us have been vaccinated,” Carmona wrote. He said the goal now was to “change the narrative” to convince people that getting the vaccine was not just about their own health.
“Getting vaccinated means a thriving economy and more job opportunities, children who learn safely in school and prepare for a prosperous future, and enough hospital capacity so that we can get medical care when we need it, ”Carmona wrote.
As of Wednesday, nearly 4.1 million Arizonans had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. But barely half of all Arizonans are fully protected.
The decision by some to try ivermectin instead of one of the vaccines approved for full or emergency use may just be another complicating factor in efforts to get more Arizonans vaccinated.
According to the FDA, certain animal formulations of the drug, including injectables, pourable and paste, are approved to prevent parasites in animals.
There are some human uses, such as pills for parasitic worms and topical applications for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. But these, according to the agency, are in specific doses.
This is not to say that the drug may not be helpful in fighting the virus.
“Clinical trials are underway to assess ivermectin for COVID,” Bessel said. “But no clear conclusion has been published that confirms this drug is safe or as an effective form of treatment for COVID. “
And that’s, she said, why Banner’s doctors won’t prescribe it.
But apparently, nothing stands in the way of doctors recommending it to patients.
The FDA, in a newsletter to consumers, tells people that if they get a written prescription, they must fill it through a “legitimate source such as a pharmacy” and that they must take it exactly. as prescribed.
Part of the danger, according to the FDA, lies in taking medicines intended for animals. Not only are these drugs designed for creatures much larger than humans, the animal versions “are very different from those approved for humans.”