Mud Fever in Horses - Causes, Treatment and Diagnosis
Mud fever is a skin condition that affects horses and
Mud fever is also described as "Greasy Heel", "Cracked Heels", Grease,
Rain Rot, Scratches, "Mud Rash", "Dew Poisoning" and Dermatophilosis.
Mud fever in horses is a form of skin infection or dermatitis
which is caused by a micro-organism named "Dermatophilous Congolensis"
which thrives in muddy and wet conditions.
SWELLING IN THE PASTERN
It can cause swelling in the pastern area of the horse's
leg and may cause a horse or pony to go lame.
Mud fever is caused when the "Dermatophilous Congolensis"
bacterium penetrate the skin. This can be either through a wound or also
as a result of the horse or pony's skin becoming softened due to persistant
moisture, mud or dampness on its skin.
Mud Fever is characterised by the scabs forming on the horse's
legs. The horse's legs may have swelling in the area surrounding
the mud fever scabs.
The crusty scabs that are caused by mud fever stick to tufts or clumpsof
hair. When these scabs are removed the matted hairs come off with them.
In some cases mud fever can also progress to causes more serious infections
such as equine cellulitis which is an extremely painful
condition for a horse or pony.
a horse with Mud Fever
- If your horse or pony has a very bad case of mud
fever - i.e. He is lame or has has swollen legs
you should seek advice from your veterinary surgeon. Your
vet may prescribe antibiotics and / or corticosteriod ointments
and possibly an anti - inflammatory such as bute to reduce
- Remove the affected horse from wet muddy field conditions
and keep dry.
- Gently remove any of the matted crusts from affected areas.
Soaking the scabs or crusts in warm soapy
water will help to soften them and make removal
easier and less painful for your horse or pony.
- When the mud fever crusts have been removed
the affected areas of skin should be washed with an anti-bacterial
solution and left for about 10 minutes.
- The treated area of mud fever should then be rinsed then
and towel dried with a clean towel.
- Apply an antibacterial ointment together
and also a moisture repelling product such as baby oil or
- Equine Corticosteriod ointment can also
be applied to mud fever if prescribed by your vet
- It is important not to cover the affected areas of mud
fever with any ointments until the areas are claen and dry.
Otherwise the "Dermatophilous Congolensis"
bacteria can multiply in the damp conditions sealed in by
the applied creams or ointments.
How to Prevent Mud Fever and Cracked Heels in Horses
- The bacterium Dermatophilous Congolensis is
naturally found on a horse's skin.
Muddy fields and wet grass provide the damp conditions
which cause an infection, which makes it very difficult
to completely prevent your horse from suffering from Mud
However taking preventative measures can reduce the
chances of a horse getting infected with Mud Fever and
reduce the severity of the symptoms.
Always make sure that the horse's pasterns and
heels are cleaned thoroughly and dried after
Clip any long hair and feathers but avoid clipping all
of the horse's legs.
A good preventative remedy to try is to spray the legs
, especially the back of the pasterns, with a half and
half mixture of vinegar and baby oil after washing and
The baby oil moisturises the skin and prevents it from
cracking, the acidic vinegar changes the pH value of the
skin just enough to make conditions on the skin unfriendly
for the bacteria to grow.
Preparations like tea-tree oil and emu oil also have
mild antiseptic properties and can also be used to try
to prevent and treat Mud Fever.
Use a feed supplement with a formula of herbs that help
improve skin condition.
Causes, Treatment and Diagnosis of Mud Fever in Horses and Ponies