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Any horse can develop Mud Fever if subjected to the right conditions.

The causative organism is called dermatophilus congolensis and is a cross between a fungus and bacteria living in muddy gateways and tracks. The condition is synonymous with winter conditions, taking advantage of soft or broken skin around the pasterns and fetlocks. Often it is associated with thin legged, pink skinned horses but feathered horses are also prone to infection. However, even heavy dew in the middle of summer can cause for an outbreak. The lesions can also occur anywhere else on the body. When seen above leg height it is referred to as “rain scald”.Description: Any horse can develop Mud Fever if subjected to the right conditions. The causative organism is called dermatophilus congolensis and is a cross between a fungus and bacteria living in muddy gateways and tracks. The condition is synonymous with winter conditions, taking advantage of soft or broken skin around the pasterns and fetlocks. Often it is associated with thin legged, pink skinned horses but feathered horses are also prone to infection. However, even heavy dew in the middle of summer can cause for an outbreak. The lesions can also occur anywhere else on the body. When seen above leg height it is referred to as “rain scald”.


Treatment:

Involves removing all the scabs by softening them with an antiseptic cream, followed by disinfecting the area with a wash such as hibiscrub and then keeping the legs dry and mud free. Application of a veterinary medicated barrier cream will help kill further spread of infection prevent further infections. Sometimes it is also necessary to treat with oral or injectable antibiotics.


Preventions:

Keep your horses legs clean and dry whenever possible. Preventing them from standing in muddy gateways by fencing off these areas will help. If possible lay a large apron of hard standing inside the gateway for them to stand on. Always: clean and dry your horse’s legs before stabling. Do not scrub their legs with a hard bristled brush as this could cause damage and infections to spread.


Feathers; to keep or not to keep?

Best left on as these provide a barrier to the mud, but as soon as infection is found they need to be clipped to allow effective cleaning.


Mud Fever boots, do they work?

Only if they fit well and the ground is not too muddy. Otherwise mud or material can work its way inside the boot and act as an abrasive, making matters worse.

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Veterinary advice in this magazine is provided as a general guide and you should always seek professional advice