Ivermectin: Pesticide Misuse in Humans

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Health Advisory recently in response to increased reports of illness associated with products containing the pesticide ivermectin. Ivermectin is an active ingredient that is typically used to treat internal animal parasites such as roundworms, threadworms, and other parasites, and external parasites such as head lice. It is an anti-parasitic pesticide not an anti-viral. The FDA has not approved ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19.

The CDC health advisory states “Veterinary formulations intended for use in large animals such as horses, sheep, and cattle (e.g., “sheep drench,” injection formulations, and “pour-on” products for cattle) can be highly concentrated and result in overdoses when used by humans. Animal products may also contain inactive ingredients that have not been evaluated for use in humans. People who take inappropriately high doses of ivermectin above FDA-recommended dosing may experience toxic effects.”

Incorrect use of any pesticide can lead to injury, negative health impacts, or severe illness. Be sure to always read and understand the label when using pesticides and only use them where specified on the label. As a reminder, disinfectants are pesticides too, and should be used properly to minimize health risks.

Part of the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program's mission is to provide pesticide information to residents of California to protect human health and the environment. We address public health issues as they relate to pests of homes, people, pets, structures, and plants. Part of our educational efforts in this area is on pesticide use and safety. We do not and cannot comment on medically advised prescriptions or treatment for human diseases and ailments such as influenza, measles, asthma, COVID-19, or any other contagious diseases. However, it is within our charge to share information about registered pesticides, their safe use, and consequences to human health.

Visit our website for more information on pesticides in homes and landscapes. If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing serious illness due to pesticide exposure, contact the Poison Control hotline at 800-222-1222.


By Karey Windbiel-Rojas
Author - Associate Director for Urban & Community IPM/ Area Urban IPM Advisor
By Elaine Lander
Author - Urban & Community IPM Educator