What is mud fever?
Mud fever in horses is a term for an infection that often settles on the lower part of the legs. This is caused by bacteria, fungi, mites or dermatophilus congolensis, which propagate on the skin and create an eczema-like condition. If the skin becomes moist, over time it will become porous and vulnerable. Vulnerable skin can easily be damaged and thus bacteria and mites can easily propagate. Often the mud fever propagates first in the fetlock, as the skin there is extra thin and exposed.
Why do horses get mud fever?
This is a typical autumn / winter condition, which is often provoked by wet and muddy folds. In Europe, we have a very long and wet season, which means that the horses’ skin around the legs and fetlock is constantly moist. This creates a porous and sensitive skin that is extra susceptible to bacterial attack.
If the horse has first had mud fever once, there will be an overwhelming likelihood that it will return annually. This is due to a chronic damage to the epidermis, which causes the skin’s normal defense barrier to be broken through by wounds, cracks, chemical influences, etc. This allows bacteria and other organisms to establish themselves in the tissue. If the bacteria and organisms remain in moist living conditions, they will multiply and a new round of mud fever is on the way.
Horses with light-skinned legs are more prone to get attacks.
Symptoms of mud fever
The Symptoms often appears as scabs in the fetlock and / or up the leg. On light-skinned legs you will often be able to see red irritations. In some cases, one may experience local swelling, heat, soreness or lameness.
The picture shows a mud fever attack on a horse. Here you can see the recognizable scabs up the leg, as well as redness around the fetlock.
How is it treated?
Mud fever can be treated in several ways. There are several creams and ointments that contain disinfectants that fight fungus, bacteria and / or mites, but the most effective and gentle product is PREVENT.
PREVENT is a dry, lime-based powder product which is sprinkled directly on to damp legs and hooves. PREVENT has a very effective drying effect, which creates a dry environment where bacteria and mites can’t survive. Completely without the use of disinfectants and chemicals.
Often, mud fever will heal within 2-4 weeks.
The horse in the picture was treated 4-5 times a week for 3 weeks.
How to avoid mud fever
You can do a lot yourself to prevent your horse from getting mud fever. Here are some tips and tricks.
If your horse is standing on box, make sure the box is dry.
Make sure the horse is fed properly and its need of vitamins and minerals are met.
Wash the horse’s legs clean of mud and soil when taking in from the fold.
Use PREVENT 2-3 times a week for prevention. This dries out the area and prevents fungi, bacteria and organisms from propagating.
The vast majority of organisms thrive only in humid environments. Therefore, drying out the area is enough. Avoid applying unnecessary chemicals that can further damage the epidermis.
Read more about mud fever here