Mud fever is essentially a form of dermatitis which affects the skin on the heel, fetlock and pastern. It can affect all horses, but particularly those with long hair around the fetlocks. In more severe cases it can lead to inflammation and infection and spread up the legs.
It usually occurs during the wet winter months and is primarily caused by the bacterium Dermatophilus congolensis that also causes rain scald. The bacterium forms spores that are capable of surviving for many months, even years. If not effectively removed, the condition can recur at any time.
The hind legs are more prone to mud fever than the front legs and usually white socks and stockings tend to be worse affected.
The skin and underlying tissues become inflamed and leads to the skin swelling, stretching and weeping; the skin starts to crack, hair falls out and hard scabs form.
Generally, horses that are exposed to a muddy environment or which are kept in a dirty or unsatisfactory condition are liable to develop mud fever. Also horses with cracked heels are at high risk from mud fever.
Can Equissage help?
Yes it can.
The bacterium responsible for mud fever cannot invade skin that is healthy hence it is more often seen in wet weather when the skin is more liable to become chapped thus allowing the bacteria to enter - as indeed it can enter through a tiny scratch so this means that mud fever is not always just the curse of the wet weather. Some horses are more susceptible to others because their skin is a less efficient barrier to the infection.
So firstly a horse with healthy skin and a healthy immune system can more readily “fight off” this infection. If the bacteria are able to penetrate deeper into the skin, then that is when swelling occurs and the classic signs of thickened skin are seen. Once a horse has suffered from mud fever it is then prone to further outbreaks.
For the already affected horse use of Equissage obviously helps to reduce any associated swelling and by promoting healthy circulation of blood and lymph, waste materials are readily eliminated and nutrients to aid healing are brought in.
Often nutritional supplements are recommended to promote healthy skin, so this is a task that ideally suits Equissage as it so readily promotes the circulation thus keeping the skin and coat in good condition.
A daily session with the Pad on a medium setting will readily promote healing in the distal regions. If the infection is particularly severe i.e. has penetrated deeper or there are large numbers of scabs, then a twice-daily treatment can only do more good.
As it is often necessary to clip the legs in order to effect scab removal, the legs may well then be too sensitive to accept the Leg Boot or Hand Unit; however use of the Pad alone will still be effective.
Use Equissage as a regular part of the management routine to boost the immune system so that the horse is more readily prepared for fighting off infection.