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