Mud fever is an aggressive bacterial condition that can affect the lower limbs of horses and ponies. The condition was previously believed to be caused by one type of bacteria but it is now understood to be more complex.
Research suggests that although it is most commonly Dermatophilus congolensis that attacks the skin, it is possible that there are a number of other bacteria that can become involved. The responsible bacteria can stay dormant on the skin for long periods of time and is also thought to thrive in certain soil types.
Although some horses can suffer from mud fever all year round it is most common during the winter months. Mild but damp winters present the perfect conditions for mud fever to take hold. The protective barrier of the skin can become damaged when subjected to too much water, leaving the weakened area open for attack by bacteria. This bacteria then thrives and spreads in the warm epidermal layers of the skin. As well as adverse environmental conditions, mud fever can be brought on by any factor that causes the skin to become weakened, such as frequent washing of legs that are then not dried, sweating, or incorrect fitting of bandages or boots. A weakened immune system could also make the horse more susceptible to such conditions.
Mud fever causes irritation, as well as inflammation and swelling underneath the epidermis. It is a form of dermatitis, which in extreme cases can lead to lameness through fluid build-up. The condition can range from irritated skin right through to infected lesions, with the condition most commonly characterised by painful sores and scabs. The problem is most commonly seen around the back of the pastern area though it is not unusual for it to go further up the leg and be found around the knee. If not treated mud fever can become very serious very quickly.
Carr & Day & Martin have a simple 1-2-3 process to aid in the management and subsequent prevention of winter skin conditions.
MF Pro is a uniquely formulated 3 step system designed to cleanse, relieve and protect vulnerable heels and legs and can help to combat common winter skin conditions. Contents includes an Antibacterial Cleanser, a Soothing Antibacterial and Antifungal Balm, Professional Leg Wrap, Horse Care Sponge, and a Protective Salve Barrier together with a full Instruction Leaflet explaining the system and use of products.