In an effort to combat the coronavirus, people are trying unproven cures that may be harmful or even worse than contracting COVID.

One treatment falsely circulating as a COVID cure is ivermectin – a horse dewormer – that is being taken in lethal doses, Business Insider reported.

People are obtaining the drug through veterinarians in large doses recommended for horses and using the ivermectin on themselves, Julie Weber, president of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, told ABC News.

Weber continued by saying, “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.”

This has caused an increase in the number of calls to poison control centers about the drug, with the Missouri Poison Center seeing the number of calls they receive about ivermectin increase by 40 to 50 per day compared to before the pandemic, ABC News reported.

While medical experts have long warned people about fake cures for COVID, some which could lead to health problems that are worse than being infected with the virus, it hasn’t stopped some individuals from trying the drug.

While ivermectin, which is commonly used to eliminate lice, scabies, and worms in dogs, cats, and horses, can be tolerated by humans in smaller doses, it can lead to poisoning in the horse-size doses that people are taking it in. This can lead to seizures, coma, lung issues, and heart problems, the Missouri Poison Center told ABC News.

Even at small doses, ivermectin can cause side effects such as nausea, rashes, and increased heartbeat, according to Business Insider.

Several health agencies have come out against the use of ivermectin as a COVID treatment, including the National Institutes of Health, which issued a statement in February that read in part, “There are insufficient data for the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (the Panel) to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19.”

The Food and Drug Administration has also said that ivermectin should not be self-administered as intended for animals.

“People should never take animal drugs, as the FDA has only evaluated their safety and effectiveness in the particular animal species for which they are labeled. These animal drugs can cause serious harm in people. People should not take any form of ivermectin unless it has been prescribed to them by a licensed health care provider and is obtained through a legitimate source,” the FDA said.

The use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID arose out of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) – an organization of critical care physicians and scholars formed at the start of the pandemic – which called for the drug as a possible cure for the virus.

FLCCC, which has also supported the controversial use of vitamin C for sepsis, produced studies that claim that ivermectin could combat the coronavirus. However, medical experts argue that the research is lacking, MedPageToday said.

But FLCCC has warned that vet-prescribed ivermectin is not safe, saying on its website, “We cannot recommend veterinary formulations given the lack of safety data around their use, however we are also not aware of any associated toxicity.”

An electron microscopic image that shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 An electron microscopic image that shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 Photo: National Institutes of Health / Handout