Are we running out of wormers?

What's happening?

In October Equitape will be withdrawn from sale in the UK. Equitape is the only wormer to contain praziquantel as the sole active ingredient. This means it targets only tapeworm infestations and has no impact on other types of worms. Praziquantel will still be available in combination with other ingredients such as moxidectin in Equest Pramox and ivermectin in Eqvalan Duo.

What does this mean?

This presents a challenge to both horse owners and prescribers such as SQP's. Tapeworm only infestations will no longer be able to be treated without using an ingredient that also targets strongyles. Unnecessary exposure to drugs increase the rate at which resistance develops, shortening the lifespan of the few drugs that are currently available. One of the things that can be done to prevent wormer resistance is to take a strategic view on worming taking into account herd management, risk of infection and testing.

What should I do?

The cornerstone of any worm management should be regular testing. Routine worm counts should be carried out every 8-12 weeks and EquiSal saliva tapeworm tests every 6 months, the results of these tests can then be used to decide whether treatment is required or not. Research has shown that worm egg counts identify the 20% of horses that need worming, enabling an 82% reduction in wormer usage. Tapeworm wormer use can be reduced by nearly 90% as the tapeworm test shows about only a quarter of horses need treating.

It is important to remember that in late autumn/winter it is vital to treat horses with a wormer effective against encysted redworms which cannot be detected by worm counts. This is the ideal time to carry out an EquiSal saliva tapeworm test; if tapeworm is not present a dose of either moxidectin or 5-day fenbendazole can be given, or if tapeworm is present a combination wormer with moxidectin and praziquantel is advised.

Throughout the rest of the year if a treatment for both tapeworm and redworm is needed there are two choices, ivermectin and praziquantel in combination or a double dose of pyrantel. A double dose of pyrantel is suitable if there is only a tapeworm infection present or the redworms are known to be susceptible to pyrantel. If tests show that a treatment for redworms only is required the preferred option is a dose of ivermectin.

How can Agrix Nutrition help?

Agrix Nutrition can offer all the testing required to take a strategic view of worming, including routine worm counts, EquiSal saliva tapeworm tests and pinworm tests. All these are available through both our yard visit and postal services. We can also offer advice and assistance on all your worm related questions, contact us if you would like to know more or book a worm count.

So, are we running out of wormers?

No, not yet, but we need to continue to be judicious in using the right wormer in the correct situation and using all the tests at our disposal to help with our decision making. This way we can ensure the wormers that we have got continue to be effective for as long as possible, otherwise we could run out of wormers.