CANTER: A new campaign to combat wormer resistance in UK - Veterinary Practice
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CANTER: A new campaign to combat wormer resistance in UK

A new pan-industry group, the first of its kind worldwide, has been formed to tackle the increasing threat that wormer resistance poses to horse health and the equine industry

Termed CANTER to communicate the urgency of its crusade, “Controlling ANTiparasitic resistance in Equines Responsibly,” the new organisation brings together voluntary representation from the widest reaches of the sector.

These include leading experts in the field across prescribers, diagnostic providers, pharmaceutical companies, trade organisations, technical experts, horse owners, charities and policy makers.

All recognise the critical consequences of antiparasitic resistance and the need for coordinated action to slow the development and maintain efficacy of our limited treatments.

Top riders Piggy March, Miri Hackett and Anna Bridges gathered at the National Equine Show, Birmingham, on Saturday 4 March 2023 with CANTER representatives to support the launch of this new initiative.

Formation of the group has been masterminded by Dr Claire Stratford, core steering group lead of CANTER, from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

She comments: “I hope that CANTER will raise awareness and stimulate action across the equine community towards sustainable parasite control.

“Our aim is for CANTER to become the trusted source of information for prescribers and horse owners and to facilitate informed discussion about this important aspect of horse health.”

At its outset the group are prioritising four strands of activity;

  • Best Practice Guidelines will be published before the end of 2023 to give prescribers evidence-based guidance and information on sustainable, responsible and practical strategies for parasite control in equines
  • Faecal egg count guidance will be produced to inform protocols on collecting, processing and interpreting the results and promote effective use of diagnostic and monitoring tools
  • A research arm has been formed to identify knowledge gaps and opportunities and a communication strategy is being developed to disseminate this information

The aim of the organisation is to support a consistent approach to parasite control across the equine community and to become a “single source of truth” on issues related to antiparasitic resistance in equines (an area that has traditionally seen some mixed messaging).

In their official launch presentation, CANTER core steering group members Claire Shand (Westgate Labs), Claire Williams (BETA) and Claire Stratford called for horse owners to assess parasite risk with their prescriber, test first to target treatment and poo pick paddocks, all to reduce exposure to wormers and the development of resistance.

Free profiling resource

To support the launch and call to action, CANTER has developed a free profiling resource for horse owners.

The Parasite Risk Table and supporting infographics are intended to highlight the broad range of factors that influence a horse’s parasite risk.

Working through the risk factors of the CANTER acronym:

  • Clinical history,
  • Age Profile
  • Number of horses
  • Test results
  • Environment
  • to give an overall parasite Risk profile

The aim is to provide an easy assessment tool to categorise horses as low, medium or high risk of parasite infection and disease and to discuss appropriate action with their prescriber.

David Rendle, President of The British Equine Veterinary Association comments: “Anthelmintic resistance represents a huge threat to equine health and welfare. 

“Universal adoption of a diagnostic led approach to parasite control and a dramatic reduction in the use of anthelmintics is what’s needed to address this, and I hope, what CANTER will provide the impetus for. If horse owners don’t make these changes now, it will be too late.

“Risk factors for parasite associated disease should always be considered when developing a plan for diagnostic led parasite control and diagnostics and treatments should be considered within that framework having already considered the risks.

“We have to get away from ad hoc use of egg counts and treatments.” 

For more information about CANTER and to download the free parasite risk profile please visit the website.

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