Parasitic worms resistant to treatment & affect up to 40% of UK children

Posted: 21 November 2016 | Dr Nick Thompson, Holisticvet Consultancy | 3 comments

Holistic Vet Dr Nick Thompson explains how over use of worming treatment has lead to epidemic resistance affecting up to 40% of UK children…

It’s a fact – according to the World Health Organization – more than two billion people are infected with parasitic worms, including tens of millions of young children and pregnant women.

In the UK alone, it is estimated that up to 40% of children under the age of 10 may be affected by worms at any one time.

Lack of action

Nearly 20 years ago, respected scientific studies argued that the impact of worms on human health was as great as malaria or tuberculosis and while the treatment of these diseases has advanced dramatically since then – the approach to worming has not.

Wanting to highlight the issues around resistance to wormers across both animals and humans, leading holistic vet, Nick Thompson has called for greater awareness of this global issue.


Anthelmintic wormer resistance

His campaign is underway with the production and development of two top-level films which highlight the problems we face today due to anthelmintic wormer resistance.

Says Nick: “These parasites cause malnutrition, diarrhoea, dysentery, anaemia and sometimes death in humans and animals alike.”

“They also exacerbate many other medical conditions with the economic impact on the worldwide livestock production substantial.


Responsible farming?

“It is not surprising that treating pets, livestock and other animals regularly with a wormer has become the norm with worming now considered an essential part of owning a pet or farming livestock. Worming has become part of the responsible animal owner’s basic care routine but the drugs we rely on to treat worm infestations in both humans and animals are becoming less and less effective.”

Source: Holisticvet Consultancy

Similar chemicals

Nick adds: “The emergence of resistance to wormers as a serious problem is no surprise. In fact for decades the drugs used to treat these parasites have been based on only three types of chemicals, which all act in similar ways.

“Resistance to one type inevitably leads to resistance to another, with more and more worms developing resistance to all three which is commonly known as multi-drug resistance.”

Nick points out that it is understanding how current wormers work – or don’t work – that could be the key to finding a sustainable solution to wormer resistance.

“The major challenge is not the worm’s ability to survive a dose of a drug that would normally be lethal but the fact that this ability to survive can be passed on to its offspring.

“The flaw in all de-worming drugs is that they have never been 100% effective. There are always survivors and with less worms to compete against, the survivors do what they do best – thrive and reproduce, establishing a new generation of worms with the ability to resist the only drugs available to kill them.

Multi-drug resistance

“So the more often drugs are used, the easier it is for the survivor worms to thrive.  It is widely believed that the routine use of wormer drugs in animals – food producing animals in particular – is a major cause of drug resistance.  Multi-drug resistance is now a global problem because all the de-wormer drugs we rely in show significant resistance.”

Prescription only

Looking at the options to overcome the issue Nick highlights a number of ideas including making wormers ‘prescription only’, introducing strict quarantine measures for livestock, selective dosing of herds and introducing further herbal worming methods and techniques.


Concludes Nick: “Every pet owner, farmer, horse or poultry owner needs to rethink their approach to worming now.  Anyone who owns or cares for animals needs to ask themselves whether they are helping to tackle this very serious problem or are, in fact, making it worse.”


Science journalist and presenter Michael Mosley deliberately infested himself with tapeworms to explore the astonishing world of parasites for a new BBC documentary. Photo: Nathan Williams/BBC

Science journalist and presenter Michael Mosley deliberately infested himself with tapeworms to explore the astonishing world of parasites for a BBC documentary. Photo: Nathan Williams/BBC

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