Project WORMS: Vets and horse owners must work together to tackle anthelmintic resistance - Veterinary Practice
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Project WORMS: Vets and horse owners must work together to tackle anthelmintic resistance

The veterinary industry is calling on horse owners and stud managers to share information about their approach to worming in a bid to tackle anthelmintic resistance and safeguard equine health in the future

To help find a solution to the rapidly growing problem of resistance to equine worming products, members of the veterinary world have joined forces to launch Project WORMS, which stands for “Working to Overcome Resistance and Make for a Sustainable future”.

In the first stage of Project WORMS, 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, due to wormer resistance in the future.

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). Ethical approval has been obtained from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).

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.

She said: “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. Information from the surveys will help us 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.”

Dr Tim Mair, CVS equine director, 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.”

Graham Hunter, IVC Evidensia equine group veterinary advisor, said: “There is a huge and worsening issue with resistance, not just with bacteria’s resistance to our antibiotics but also equine parasites to our worming drugs. We need to develop and improve our strategies for their future use. Project WORMS is an amazing collaborative study into how we as an industry and our clients are using these products and how we can improve our strategies for keeping the horses, ponies and donkeys under our care in the very best of health. We are delighted to be on board with such an important project.”

Camilla Scott, a member of the stud team at Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons, is urging owners and managers of stud farms to support the project. She said: “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.”

Dave Rendle, president elect of BEVA, added: “BEVA are pleased to be able to support this important piece of work, which will inform decision making around anthelmintic stewardship going forward. Anthelmintic resistance presents a serious and imminent threat to the equine industry.”

Surveys are anonymous, and anyone taking part can enter a prize draw with the chance to win £100 of Love2Shop vouchers.

To find out more about Project WORMS and access the surveys, visit: the project website.

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