BEVA Launches New Resources to Fight Against Resistant Parasites

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) has published new resources to guide vets in the U.K. on the use of anthelmintics in equine practice.
ProtectMEtoo parasite resistance program
ProtectMEtoo is a practical toolkit that veterinarians can use to create practice policies on anthelmintic control. | Courtesy BEVA

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) has published a wealth of new resources to guide vets in the U.K. on the use of anthelmintics in equine practice. 

As part of its war on the over-use of dewormers, the association and its journals have produced a formal systematic expert review of all the relevant literature (Primary Care Guidelines), practical guidance on equine parasite control (evolved from the Primary Care Guidelines), a review of the environmental impact of dewormers, and a toolkit to help veterinary practices develop policies for the responsible use of dewormers (ProtectMEtoo).

With resistance to dewormers on the rise, and no new products on the horizon, we are facing a crisis where there may be a resurgence of parasite-related clinical disease alongside diminishing treatment options. Inadvertent over-use of dewormers has facilitated the spread of resistance, but the practice persists due to both naivety and apathy amongst horse-owners, suitably qualified persons (SQPs, who can dispense horse dewormers), and practitioners alike. By stating the facts, offering concise guidelines, and stressing the importance of changing behaviors, BEVA hopes to retain what dewormer efficacy remains, and thereby avoid unnecessary disease and loss of life.

The Primary Care Guidelines on equine parasite control were published in the latest issue of the Equine Veterinary Journal (EVJ), alongside a summary of the practical guidance (Supplementary Item 3). The guidelines advocate for risk-based, diagnostic-led treatments and call for anthelmintics to be reclassified as POM-V medicines.

In parallel, EVJ’s sister journal Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) published ‘Environmental impacts of equine parasiticide treatment: The UK perspective,’ a review of the ecological impact of anthelmintics, produced by BEVA’s Sustainability Working Group.

BEVA’s Anthelmintic Working Group has launched ProtectMEtoo, a practical toolkit that veterinarians can use to create practice policies on anthelmintic control. It provides guidance on real world risk assessments, clarity on the role of testing, and advice on whether or not to deworm and which anthelmintic to select. It also provides best practice guidance specifically for foals, youngstock, donkeys and hybrids, and adult horses.  

“The overuse of anthelmintics has undoubtedly contributed to the alarming level of anthelmintic resistance against all classes of anthelmintic,” said David Rendle, who wrote a supporting editorial in the EVJ. “As a profession, we must move away from routine anthelmintic treatments and fully embrace risk-based, diagnostic-led treatment. We must accept that horses remain healthy with a tolerable number of internal parasites and, as such, healthy horses will have eggs in their feces.” 

With these new weapons in its armory, BEVA wants anthelmintic resistance to be afforded the same importance as antimicrobial resistance, and it is urging the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) to make dewormers more difficult for horse owners to use irresponsibly.

“We have experienced 20 years of education since anthelmintics lost their POM-V status, yet diagnostic-led programs of parasite control are only implemented by a minority of horse owners,” said David Rendle. “The social science indicates that in addition to education, there will have to be restrictions on access to anthelmintics if there is to be a meaningful reduction in their use.” 

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