Summer Mud Fever??

We've had several clients visit the clinic over the last month or so who have been battling with what looks like mud fever on their horses.

There was an article in one of the recent NZ Horse & Pony magazines which was a great little read offering a little more insight into this annoying bugbear.

We’ve taken some excerpts of the article and dissected it a little further with the help of Larissa Bilston, Nutritionist at Farmalogic, asking her view and how we might be able to combat it.

Mud fever in Summer? What is it??

It’s called “mud fever” because it looks a lot like winter mud fever – crusty little scabs typically seen on the lower leg, especially on horses with white socks/lighter colours.

Isn’t mud fever aggravated by the wet winter conditions?

Both types of mud fever initially start with a breakdown in the skin barrier which can then let infection in.

Although they both typically look the same, the way the breakdown occurs is totally different.

WINTER mud fever causes problems by continual wetting of the limb (wet areas/mud) whereas SUMMER mud fever is instigated by sunburn and the later infection can come from general contamination of dust/dirt.

People often get disheartened trying to treat summer mud fever the same as winter mud fever. They’ve been typically using the same topical treatments as they would in winter. However, as the sun plays such a major role with summer mud fever, sun protection is what is needed.

How can we treat summer mud fever?

Larissa – “The ‘sunburn’ associated with summer mud fever is actually photosensitivity caused by ingestion of pasture mycotoxins – we do in fact have a very clear cause. Secondary fungal and bacterial infections then opportunistically invade the damaged skin barrier.

Vitamins and minerals play a very important role in skin health and immune function which impacts on the animal’s ability to cope with the inflammation, infection and immune challenge posed by the mycotoxins, skin damage and irritation.

I believe that the only way to successfully overcome this issue is a multi-pronged approach consisting of:

  1. A diet correctly balanced for minerals to ensure the body has all the nutrition it needs to function properly, repair itself and fight off immune challenges (one of the very important reasons that Farmalogic offers a free diet analysis service!)

  2. A broad-spectrum toxin binder – choose one proven not to bind supplementary minerals. Farmalogic Grazaid contains the broadest acting toxin binder combination available in NZ and Australia which binds, traps and enzymically deactivates feed mycotoxins.

  3. Feed antioxidants including natural vitamin E, organic selenium and SOD enzyme to donate an electron to and thus deactivate the free radical molecules that occur at sites of inflammation and injury. I recommend Farmalogic Melox antioxidants.

  4. Topical treatments for managing secondary infections, both fungal and bacterial. This can include washes or zinc creams but shouldn’t be ‘greasy’ or increase the moisture level of the damaged skin. I usually recommend Filta-bac be applied at the same time because the zinc helps with sun protection and the anti-bacterial properties in a drying cream help manage secondary infections.

  5. Veterinary intervention with steroids if required to bring inflammation under control to help the horse self-perpetuating the problem with rubbing or scratching.

“Photosensitivity is easy to combat – it’s one of the few things in horse nutrition that works super quickly, like magic!”

Summer mud fever symptoms are classic mycotoxin symptoms and should clear up relatively quickly (in a few days) with the right levels of toxin binders and mineral supplementation.

Still not sure what supplements/products could help? Pop into the clinic, we’re happy to share information on what could best suit your situation. And if we don’t know the answers, we’ll ask our wider team who will.

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