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14 January

Mud Fever

author image Irralie Richardson Irralie Richardson
Mud Fever image

What are the causes of Mud fever?

Mud fever is a skin condition cause mainly by bacteria called Dermatophilus Congolensis. Naturally present in the soil, this bacteria can settle in the horse’s lower leg especially when the skin’s integrity is compromised. Occasionally, this condition can occur through poor stable management or when the horses’ leg is consistently wet. 

Horses with thick and long feathers or white socks can be more prone to developing mud fever.

How to recognise the symptoms?

As it is often the case, the earlier the condition is spotted, the easier it is to treat and manage. 

First, the infection appears to be a simple inflammation of the skin. Then hair loss can be observed followed by weeping skin and the formation of scabs. These small wounds can become a point of entry for fungal or bacterial infection. 

Without treatment, mud fever can lead to lameness, lymphangitis and even sepsis. 

Prevention is better than cure

First and foremost, it is important to address the horse’s environment. If the horse is stabled, regular mucking out and periodical deep cleaning of the stables is a must. 

Outdoors, ground management will help keeping horses and ponies out of muddy patches: move water troughs, feeding stations and access to the paddock regularly, fence out muddy corners where horses tend to stand. Rubber mats are good for keeping the mud in high traffic areas under control. 

Finally, legs must be dried out properly after bathing, after turn out or after a hack in wet conditions. You may want to leave some of the feather when clipping as their primary function is to guide to rainwater run off away from the pastern.

Additional preventative measures can also be taken, like feeding supplements to support immunity and skin. Look out for echinacea rich supplements as this is traditionally used to support the immune system. Herbs rich in fatty acids such as Linseed can also be added to support skin health and integrity. 

How to treat mud fever

Taking the preventative measures listed above is the first step. Then, cleaning the affected area is the best course of action: 

  • When possible, wash the area with an antibacterial and antifungal shampoo. Make sure the area is dried well after.
  • If bathing is not possible, leave any mud on the legs to dry then brush the dried mud off and use an antiseptic and antifungal spray on the affected area.
  • Apply a protective lotion to help the healing process and to limit any bacterial or fungal growth.

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author image About Irralie Richardson Irralie Richardson

Irralie joined the team in November 2021 in the role of UK Customer Sales, Service, Helpline & Business Development.

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