Just before 7 am on March 3, Danny Lemoi posted an update in his hugely popular pro-ivermectin Telegram group, Dirt Road Discussions: “HAPPY FRIDAY ALL YOU POISONOUS HORSE PASTE EATING SURVIVORS !!!”
Hours later, Lemoi was dead.
For the last decade, Lemoi had taken a daily dose of veterinary ivermectin, a dewormer designed to be used on large animals like horses and cows. In 2021, as ivermectin became a popular alternative COVID-19 treatment among anti-vaxxers, he launched what became one of the largest Telegram channels dedicated to promoting the use of it, including instructions on how to administer ivermectin to children.
But despite Lemoi’s death, the administrators of his channel are pushing his misinformation—even as his followers share their own worrying possible side effects from taking ivermectin and some question the safety of the drug.
Lemoi, a heavy equipment operator who lived in Foster, Rhode Island, “passed away unexpectedly” on March 3, according to an online obituary post by his family last week. He was survived by his parents and brother. The obituary gave no details about the cause of his death.
In the Telegram channel, administrators broke the news of his death to his followers. “Though it was obvious that Danny had the biggest heart, it was unbeknownst to him that his heart was quite literally overworking and overgrowing beyond its capacity, nearly doubled in size from what it should have been,” the admins wrote, adding: “We understand that this is going to raise questions for those who were following him.”
The admins added that Lemoi had undergone testing on his heart last year, but the results had shown no cause for concern.
Lemoi began taking the version of ivermectin designed for animals on a daily basis in 2012, after he was diagnosed with Lyme disease, according to a detailed account of his medical history he gave on a podcast last November. He said then that five months after first taking the drug, he quit all other treatments and believed ivermectin had “regenerated” his heart muscle.
During the pandemic, Ivermectin became hugely popular among anti-vaxxers, many of whom were taking and recommending the veterinary formulation of the drug, rather than the one designed for human use. While ivermectin for humans is used to treat serious illnesses like river blindness, it has repeatedly been shown to be an ineffective treatment for COVID-19.
And according to the Missouri Poison Center, ingesting large doses of ivermectin formulated for animals has a long list of side effects, including seizures, coma, lung issues, and heart problems. Veterinary ivermectin is not a cure or effective treatment for COVID, the FDA has repeatedly warned, and is highly concentrated because it is designed for large animals like horses and cows. “Such high doses can be highly toxic in humans,” the FDA cautions.
“Danny was fully convinced that his heart had regenerated after his incident with Lyme disease that almost ended in congestive heart failure,” the admins wrote, before claiming that “a family history of heart disease and chronic stress” were why his heart had ultimately become engorged. “All of his other organs were unremarkable,” the admins wrote. “And this was determined to be a death by unfortunate natural causes.”
The admins of Lemoi’s channel did not respond to VICE News’ questions about where they got their information about his death. Lemoi’s surviving family did not respond to VICE News' request for comment on the cause of his death.
But a review of Lemoi’s Telegram channels shows that many of his followers who are taking his dosage recommendations, or “protocols,” for veterinary ivermectin are experiencing numerous known side effects of taking the drug.
“I’m 4 months now and all hell’s breaking loose, all pain has hit my waist down with sciatic, shin splints, restless leg syndrome, tight sore calves & it feels like some pain in the bones,” a member wrote on Friday.
Many of his followers who are taking his dosage recommendations, or “protocols,” for veterinary ivermectin are experiencing numerous known side effects of taking the drug.
Lemoi explained away the negative side effects of taking veterinary ivermectin by describing them as “herxing,” a real term to describe an adverse response that occurs in people who take antibiotics as a treatment for Lyme disease.
“My wife has been taking ivermectin for 3 months,” a member wrote Friday. “She is being treated for autoimmune hepatitis, thyroid, and vertebrae issues. She has had some serious HERXING. Today she has a migraine, vomiting and severe stomach pain. Does anyone have any ideas how to help, and are these HERXING symptoms?”
Some members of the group are taking ivermectin not only as a treatment against COVID, but as a cure-all for almost every disease—from cancer and depression, to autism and ovarian cysts—believing that every disease is caused by a parasite that is removed from the body by ivermectin, just as animals are given the drug to treat a variety of parasitic worms.
Lemoi also formulated an ivermectin regimen for children, and numerous members of the group reported that they were using it. This week alone one member wrote that she had established another group for “parents of children on the spectrum, cerebral palsy, pans/panda, downs etc.,” who are using the Lemoi’s recommended children’s dosage.
When some members of the group blamed Lemoi’s death on ivermectin, they were criticized in the Telegram channel; their fellow group members claimed they were spreading misinformation.
“No one can convince me that he died because of ivermectin,” one member wrote this week. “He ultimately died because of our failed western medicine which only cares about profits and not the cure.”
Despite Lemoi’s death, administrators said this week the Telegram channel would live on, and the group is attracting new members who continue to take ivermectin despite suffering serious side effects.
“I am very new to this... I’ve been on Bimectin paste for 20 days,” one new member wrote on Friday morning, explaining that he too was suffering from Lyme disease. “I have severe chest pain. Costochondritis symptoms. Air hunger, internal tremors, brain fog, headaches on the back of my head, anxiety, depression, doom and gloominess.”
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