A farmer walks into the Moorhead Tractor Supply Company.
“Do y’all sell any horse dewormer?” he asks the cashier.
The cashier sighs, having been asked too many times.
“Yes sir, we do. Follow me,” she says.
The cashier, Sandy Scheiden, leads the farmer to the locked case of horse dewormers. Before she unlocks the case, she reads the farmer the sign they have posted below the case.
It reads, “Animal products containing ivermectin SHOULD NOT be used in people. These products can cause serious health effects, including death.”
The sign continues that ivermectin has not been shown to be a safe way in preventing or curing COVID-19. It also says if one is concerned about COVID-19, they should consult their doctor. At the bottom, there are two QR codes to find more information.
Ivermectin is the drug people want. It is commonly found in livestock dewormer which is easier for people to get ahold of rather than asking their doctor for a prescription
People are able to take ivermectin for lice, scabies and other types of parasites but in small doses compared to the dose that is found in the livestock dewormers, which is around 10 to 15 times larger than the normal human dosage. The drug is made for a 1,000 pound animal compared to that of an average human of 134 pounds.
“I wonder about the people who come in asking for the horse dewormer and openly say they need it for themselves. They don’t understand how crazy they sound,” said Scheiden. “I feel bad for them but at the same time, I laugh at them.”
Some days she says that more than one person comes in asking for the dewormer and sometimes they can go a week without anyone asking.
The population that seems to be asking for it the most is the older generation, around 60 to 80 years old. Smaller towns and rural areas are seeing the most of it, considering it is easier to access farm supply stores.
At Tractor Supply, they have the dewormer in locked cases with a warning sign. Seven miles away, a Fleet Farm in Fargo sells livestock dewormer without the locked cases. It is rather easy for a person to grab and purchase. There is a sign similar to the one at Tractor Supply warning about the consumption of the product.
Something the two stores have in common, however, is that the shelves for the dewormers are practically empty.
“I know people are buying it and I have heard about it but I have only had to deal with one customer regarding her wanting to use the dewormer on herself,” says Conner, a sales associate at Fleet Farm.
Conner went on to explain that the woman read the sign and then became worried about consuming the product, not knowing it could cause such harm. She had heard about consuming it to combat COVID-19 through friends at church.
The Food and Drug Administration has even tweeted about this phenomenon of human consumption of livestock dewormer.
“You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” tweeted the FDA.
The tweet had a link along with it that redirects one to their website regarding why no one should use ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19.
The FDA has not approved ivermectin to be used in the treatment of COVID-19. There have been studies conducted to see if ivermectin could be used to help combat COVID-19. Fourteen studies have been conducted and concluded that no provided evidence of the drug shows any ability to prevent COVID-19, reduce conditions or morality. There are still 31 underway testing ivermectin.
Scheiden opens the case and the farmer takes a look at what is left.
“Looks like all the crazies took most of it,” said the farmer.
Scheiden lets out a breath of relief, grateful that the farmer is using it for the actual purpose and not for himself.
The farmer makes his purchase and heads off with his four boxes of horse dewormer that are all different brands due to the choices that were left for him.