Beware of buying wormers online, warn vets

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Equine wormers sold illegally over the internet, without proper advice as to usage, could be making drug resistance problems worse, say vets.

Experts, such as Professor Jacqui Matthews of the Moredun Research Institute in Edinburgh, claim overuse of certain worming drugs and untargeted worming are leading to drug-resistant groups of small redworms — the most serious parasite affecting horses.

“I am shocked that people can buy equine wormers online without being given any information on the appropriate use of these drugs,” said Prof Matthews.

“Drug resistance is a growing problem and, if we don’t take action, there is a risk that we may see more multi-drug resistant small redworms in the UK.”

Since 30 October 2005, wormers have been a prescription-only medicine across Europe.

Stephen Dawson of the Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority told H&H: “People may buy online because it is cheaper, but unless the sites provide advice as to usage they are breaking the law.”

Chief executive of The Horse Trust Jeanette Allen advises caution when buying over the web.

She said: “We strongly advise people to stop buying wormers over the internet and instead contact a vet to develop a tailored management programme for their horse.”

This article was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound, 16 December 2010