Mud fever is caused by the bacterium Dermatophilus congolensis which is found in wet and muddy conditions causing a nasty skin condition affecting the horse’s lower legs.
The infection can cause anything from a mild irritation to painful sores which can develop inyo inflammation and lameness in the worst cases.
Mud fever is not easy to cure and it will not just go away on its own, the infection needs immediate treatment to stop it from spreading further.
We have pulled together tips on how to spot mud fever, how to treat it and most importantly, the best ways of preventing it.
Firstly, here are a few causes of mud fever, as there could be more than you thought:
There are various causes for the infection including:
- Sustained damp, mild conditions
- Standing in deep mud or soiled bedding
- Constantly washings legs before and/or after work without probably drying them off
- Extreme sweating under rugs or tack
- Skin trauma, such as rubbing from overreach boots or incorrectly fitted bandages
- Generally unhealthy skin or the presence of a poor immune system, usually secondary to some other primary health problem
Signs of mud fever
Mud fever is known for the painful scores and scabs which appear on the horses lower legs, however extreme cases can include severe swelling and lameness.
Other signs include:
- Lumpy skin which feels bumpy to touch
- Creamy, white discharge
- In severe cases the skin at the back of the leg may split open producing characteristic of cracked heels
- Eventual hair lossleaving raw-looking and inflamed skin
- Heat, swelling and painon pressure or flexion of limb
- Possible lameness
- Depression and lethargy can come around If severely affected
- Loss of appetite in the worst cases
Ways of preventing mud fever
Once mud fever strikes it commonly returns so the best thing to do is try to prevent it before it happens.
- If and when possible remove your horse from any muddy fields for a long period of time, use electric fencing to corner off the boggy areas or let your horse stand in a stable so his legs can dry
- Be even more vigilant when checking for cuts and damaged skin which could beat more of a risk of infection
- Long feathers can hold in moisture so when possible try to keep them trimmed
- Use soft brushes to remove any dry mud
- Barrier creams such as the N.A.F Mud Guard Barrier Cream can be applied on clean, dry legs before turnout or exercise
- Help to build up your horses immune system by feeding the right nutrients to help him fight off infections
Treatment for mud fever
There are a number of products available aimed at the treatment and prevention of mud fever. These range from cream, to spray and antibacterial washes.
The Hypocare Equine is specifically formulated to fight the pathogens that cause mud fever and other fungal skin conditions in a powerful, yet gentle way.
The Carr & Day Martin Mud Fever Pro Pack is a simple 1-2-3 process to aid in the management and prevention of winter skin conditions. Formulated in a 3 step system designed to cleanse, relieve and protect vulnerable heels and legs, the pack includes everything you need to combat the infection.
Products in the pack include 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.