It’s that time of year where mud fever is a problem many horse owners will be faced with. Mud fever or pastern dermatitis is a common bacterial infection usually seen on the heel bulbs and back of the pastern. There is usually a dominant bacteria such as Dermatophilus congolensis but the condition is frequently a complex mix of different bacterial and fungal species.
What does mud fever look like?
- Matted hair with crusting and scabs
- Small, ulcerated, moist lesions
- Thick, creamy, yellow/white/green discharge
- Deep cracks in the skin
- Hair loss (alopecia)
- Heat, pain, swelling with possible associated lameness
What can cause mud fever?
- Soil type – some soils can predispose horses to mud fever so outbreaks on yards can be common
- Prolonged damp – either in the field or from deep, dirty, wet bedding.
- Feathering – heavy feathering can predispose horses to infestation with Chorioptes mites (feather mites) which can increase the risk of mud fever.
- Trauma to the skin can provide an entry point for the bacteria
- White limbs have been suggested to be more susceptible to mud fever
How do you treat mud fever?
- Clip the affected area – remove the hair so the skin can dry out. Removing feathers also allows you to better access the skin to treat and inspect it.
- Wash with an antimicrobial and antibacterial shampoo or scrub, such as Malaseb or dilute hibiscrub then rinse and dry thoroughly. Continue once daily for 1 week.
- Gentle removal of softened scabs can help to decontaminate the area. Do not remove dry or well adhered scabs as this can leave an open wound in the skin and predispose to further infection.
- Apply an antibacterial cream such as Flamazine to the affected area twice daily. Our own antibiotic Mud Fever solution is very effective at treating even the worst of mud fever.
When should I call my vet?
- If your horse becomes lame
- The condition continues to get worse or does not show any sign of improvement
- There is swelling of the area or leg
- You have any other worries
Please don’t hesitate to call us today if you have any concerns or questions regarding the health of your horse