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Exposures to Bleach, Peroxide, Disinfectants, Antimalarials, and Ivermectin Reported to the California Poison Control System Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2015-2021.

Public Health Reports 2023 November 8
OBJECTIVES: The COVID-19 pandemic led to widespread fear of infection, with many people expanding their use of cleaning products and trying unproven prevention and treatment strategies. We described shifts in reported exposures related to COVID-19 home interventions.

METHODS: This study considered suspected toxicity exposures involving household cleaning products (bleach, peroxide, disinfectants), antimalarials (hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine), and ivermectin reported to the California Poison Control System from 2015 through 2021 and assessed trends in exposures by using interrupted time-series analyses.

RESULTS: We found a significant increase in exposures reported to the California Poison Control System related to household cleaning products and ivermectin during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of January 1, 2015, the baseline level of reported exposures to household cleaning products was 707.33 per month and was declining at a rate of 1.71 (95% CI, -2.87 to -0.56) per month through February 29, 2020. In March 2020, an increase of 466.57 (95% CI, 328.08-605.07) reported exposures above baseline occurred, after which exposures to cleaning products decreased at a rate of 23.40 (95% CI, -32.48 to -14.32) per month. The number of reported exposures to antimalarials did not change significantly before or during the pandemic. The number of reported ivermectin exposures before December 2020 was initially stable at 14.50 per month and then increased by 2.05 per month through December 2021.

CONCLUSIONS: Our observations suggest that while some dangerous home prevention and treatment efforts resolve over time, further interventions may be needed to reduce the public health effects related to attempts to self-treat COVID-19 with ivermectin.

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