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Pandemic Information Spreads Like Peanut Butter

It is everywhere!

It is crazy that we are in the situation we are in with people being in the hospital and arguing that they don’t have COVID-19 because it is fake news.

Or some patients requesting de-worming medicine made for horses, but they did not get a vaccine for humans made to save their lives.

With the supply chains disrupted like they are, I’m expecting that “based on a comment in the story below” we’ll soon have a shortage of Ritz Crackers.

Can it get any crazier? Yes, I’m sure of it!!

From the NY Times:

When misinformation harms horses

For more than a year, misinformation about ivermectin — a drug used to kill parasites in dogs, chickens and other patients — has run rampant across social media, podcasts and talk radio. Proponents claim it’s a treatment for the coronavirus, even as the F.D.A. has warned against its use.

The inaccuracies have had real-world consequences. Some people have overdosed on certain formulations of the drug. Now, as my colleague Erin Woo reports, a run on the drug is straining the supply for veterinarians, ranchers and farmers who rely on it to treat animals.

Jeffers, a national retailer of animal supplies, recently raised the price of ivermectin paste to $6.99 a tube from $2.99. Overwhelmed by orders, one farm supply store in Las Vegas started selling the medicine only to customers who could prove they had a horse. In California, a rancher was told the backlog of orders was so large that she was 600th in line for the next batch.

These experiences underscore the concrete effects of misinformation and how far the fallout can spread, said Kolina Koltai, a researcher at the University of Washington who studies online conspiracy theories.

“It doesn’t just affect the communities that believe in misinformation,” she said. “This is something that’s affecting even people who don’t have a stake in the vaccine — it’s affecting horses.”

Misinformation about ivermectin as a potential Covid cure began proliferating just weeks after the pandemic hit, based on preliminary findings in studies that found that it could kill the virus. Other studies showed beneficial effects, but at least one of those was later retracted.

Inaccurate information has since flourished on social media sites like Reddit and Facebook, which is a popular platform for people discussing how to acquire the drug, and how to calculate doses.

“Ivermectin paste do you take orally or rub into skin?” read one recent post in a Facebook group. A commenter responded: “Put it on a cracker with a dab of peanut butter.”

Facebook said it prohibited the sale of prescription products, including drugs and pharmaceuticals, across its platforms, including in ads. But the groups on the site also funnel members into alternative platforms where content moderation policies are more lax.

Dr. Karen Emerson, a veterinarian who owns the Emerson Animal Hospital in West Point, Miss., has watched as her supply of the drug dwindles.

“If I have another flock of chickens with leg mites, I’m not going to be able to help them,” she said. “And then I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.
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