supplied by Stephen Ashdown's Free Online Vet Advice
A winter hazard for horses.
Mud Fever occurs during the wet winter months and is principally caused by the bacterium Dermatophilus congolensis.
Mud fever is essentially a form of dermatitis which affects the skin on the heel, fetlock and pastern. All horses can be affected, but particularly those with long hair around the fetlock. Back legs are more prone to mud fever than front.
Inflammation of the skin and underlying tissues leads to the skin swelling, stretching and weeping; cracks appear, hair falls out and hard scabs form.
Horses exposed to a muddy environment or which are kept in a dirty or unsatisfactory condition are liable to Mud Fever.
Here are some tips on managing mud fever.
1. Correct bad management practices. Keep horses prone to fever out of the rain and away from mud as much as possible. In severe cases consult your vet.
2. Dry the legs thoroughly before stabling using kitchen towel and keep really clean, brushing out mud, and grit laden debris.
3. Keep stabled horses bedding clean and dry.
4. Try to limit stabling to over-night – horses don’t like being cooped up. And the stress of being stabled 24hrs a day in the winter could engender colic.
5. Over-night stabling gives the legs a chance to dry off and the opportunity for you to apply your favourite cream such as Mud-X Cream (from Global Herbs) before turning your horse out.
6. Clip away any excess feathering but try to avoid clipping the legs.
7. Remove scabs carefully if you can with a suitable equine shampoo. In extreme cases surgical hibiscrub may be better; but removing scabs too soon just creates open lesions which get reinfected. Scabs go black when they are ready to fall off.
8. Use a specific formula of herbs which help improve skin condition and act against the bacteria involved eg. Mud-X supplement.
See also Skin Condition in Horses.
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