“Does ivermectin treat dengue?” asks Robert this Wednesday (7) on the “Ivermectina & Saúde” channel on Telegram. Marisa, another user, responds that “some doctors are treating [a dengue] successfully” after using the medicine. In the group, users share their doubts about the effectiveness of the dengue vaccine and certainties about whether the medicine that treats parasite infestations is effective against the disease.
On the same channel, Isabele says she understood “why the price of ivermectin increased so much” in her region. “Everyone is buying it because many doctors are advertising it online and prescribing it,” she wrote.
On X (formerly Twitter), user Ricardo Zimerman asks his colleagues to “carefully consider ivermectin + atorvastatin + montelukast” to treat dengue. “Potential for reducing viral load and progression to dengue hemorrhagic fever and, as is typical with repositioned drugs, known safety, low cost and wide availability on the network”, he writes.
The Ministry of Health, however, announced this week that it does not recognize “any protocol” that includes ivermectin for the treatment of dengue, and that the medicine is not effective in reducing the viral load of the disease.
The official position was issued to clarify rumors that the medication would be effective against the virus. The misleading content was shared by profiles with thousands of followers on social networks such as Facebook and X.
“The false narrative was published on some profiles of health professionals, including repercussions in the media, but without any data or sources to prove the statement”, says a note from the ministry.
The medicine, an antiparasitic, was even defended amid the Covid pandemic as part of early treatment against the disease, even without proven efficacy. Now, given the significant increase in dengue cases across the country, it has once again gained space on the internet as a possible solution to the disease despite the lack of scientific evidence.
The SBMT (Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine), which recently published a new guide for clinical management of dengue, endorses the ministry’s position: there is no scientific evidence for the use of ivermectin against the disease.
“There are some in vitro studies that indicated some action [do medicamento], but a recent clinical trial demonstrated that there is no clinical benefit, such as improvement in symptoms. Unfortunately, we do not have any effective treatment at the moment”, says infectious disease doctor André Siqueira, researcher at Fiocruz and vice-president of SBMT.
The entity, as well as the Ministry of Health, warns of the risk of spreading false information, especially in the midst of an epidemiological scenario like the current one.
“This false information diverts the focus from what must be done, just as happened with Covid, with people failing to identify signs of seriousness and take precautions because they believed they were protected”, warns the expert.
In the case of dengue, treatment is based on symptom management and vigorous hydration. Experts warn of the importance of seeking medical evaluation when symptoms are identified, as the disease can quickly progress to a serious form. Contraindicated medications, such as aspirin and anti-inflammatories, can lead to liver complications.
Traditional dengue is characterized by symptoms such as fever, malaise and pain in the joints and behind the eyes, and tends to affect the elderly and young children more severely.
For epidemiological control, the main measure is the reduction of mosquito breeding sites Aedes aegyptitransmitter of the virus.