Sometimes what looks like a farm story isn’t really a farm story.
For the longest time, that’s what I thought was going on with this crazy business of people taking ivermectin to cure COVID.
Sure, ivermectin is a common veterinary drug that livestock producers frequently use to control parasites in their animals, and we’ve written lots of stories about it over the years.
However, when the first reports surfaced of people trying to get their hands on ivermectin as a way to protect themselves against COVID without taking more sensible steps, such as mask wearing, social distancing and vaccination, I wasn’t convinced the story was for us.
It might be a story about a farm drug, but it wasn’t necessarily a story about farming.
But then concerns started being raised that farm supply stores were feeling pressure from folks looking for ivermectin for all the wrong reasons.
Now the question became: could this actually threaten supplies for our readers who use the drug to treat their livestock?
That, as they say, is a story, and last week I assigned it to Alex McCuaig, our reporter in Medicine Hat. Look for it on page 2 of this week’s issue.
The complicating aspect of this story is that there actually are approved human uses of ivermectin to control parasitic worms and treat skin conditions such as rosacea.
However, the New York Times recently reported that a review of 14 ivermectin studies involving more than 1,600 participants found no evidence that it works on COVID.
The newspaper also reported that some doctors in the United States were prescribing the human form of ivermectin as a COVID remedy, but I’m guessing that most aren’t.
However, that’s when people start eying up the livestock form, which can be dangerous.
Dr. Roy Lewis, a veterinarian from Alberta who writes a monthly Animal Health column for us, told me last week he worries about that because some forms of the livestock drug contain isopropyl alcohol, which is poisonous.
Besides, the doses given to livestock are much higher than what’s considered safe for humans.
According to the New York Times, 70 percent of recent calls to Mississippi’s poison control centre were from people who had ingested ivermectin from farm supply stores.
I haven’t heard of anything like that happening in Canada yet. Let’s hope it doesn’t.