New UK project tackles equine worming resistance head-on

Project WORMS has been launched in Britain to help find a solution to the rapidly growing problem of resistance to equine worming products.
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A new project has been launched in Britain to help find a solution to the rapidly growing problem of resistance to equine worming products.

For the first stage of Project WORMS (Working to Overcome Resistance and Make for a Sustainable future), horse owners and stud managers are being asked to complete surveys to find out how and when they worm, and which products they use. The data will be used to help vets work with horse owners to try and prevent serious disease, and even death, because of wormer (anthelmintic) resistance in the future.

Resistance to all currently available classes of anthelmintics has been reported in both the cyathostomins (small redworm) and ascarids (large roundworm). Furthermore, there is currently no prospect of any new drugs in the pipeline.

Project WORMS is the result of a collaboration between VetPartners’ Equine Clinical Board, CVS Group and IVC Evidensia and is supported by the British Equestrian Veterinary Association (BEVA).

BEVA President-Elect Dave Rendle said the project would inform future decision-making around anthelmintic stewardship. “BEVA is pleased to be able to support this important piece of work. Anthelmintic resistance presents a serious and imminent threat to the equine industry.”

Julia Shrubb, deputy chair of VetPartners’ Equine Clinical Board and a vet at Ashbrook Equine Hospital, said in order to safeguard worming drugs, vets need to understand how and when they are being purchased and administered.

“Most horse owners want to do the right thing for their horses, now and in the future, but many are unaware of the seriousness of the impending resistance problems of current wormers.”

She said information from the surveys would help the project to help horse owners and keepers improve worming practices in the future. “This will improve the effectiveness of anthelmintics for as long as possible and ultimately benefit the health and welfare of our entire equine population.”

CVS Equine director Dr Tim Mair said anthelmintic resistance is a rapidly growing, worldwide problem.

“With no new worming drugs on the horizon it’s important we know how they’re being used now so together we do everything we can to protect the drugs we currently have available. This means using them strategically and only when necessary.”

Camilla Scott, a member of the stud team at Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons, is urging owners and managers of stud farms to support the project.  “Stud managers are faced with a number of challenges including maintaining appropriate stocking densities, dealing with an often transient horse population and managing multiple different age groups of horses on the same grazing.

“Foals and weanlings are particularly susceptible to parasites prior to developing immunity and the potential for clinical disease is a real concern. Add to this the increasing reports of anthelmintic resistance on stud farms, now is the time to act.”

» Survey for horse owners/keepers

» Survey for stud owners/managers

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