28th February 2011, 9:39am
Researchers cure horses' mud fever misery
muddy buddy kure Researchers at the University of Lincoln have created an effective therapy for a debilitating winter condition in horses known as ‘mud fever’. The disease affects hundreds of horses each winter in the UK and many more around the world.

Trials have shown that the new product, Muddy Buddy Mud Kure, can ease the pain and discomfort experienced by horses with the infection, which is caused by a microbe found in mud during the winter months when prolonged wet conditions occur.

Up until now many horse owners have been powerless to treat the lesions and sores from mud fever effectively and have witnessed this often painful infection of the lower limb develop so much that it can cause lameness in their animals. Extreme, prolonged cases can potentially lead to the animal having to be put down.

Programme leader and senior lecturer in Bio-veterinary Science at the University’s Riseholme campus, Frank Ruedisueli, said: “We are very excited that our research has led to this product being made available which could ease the suffering of many horses. Winter in the UK can be a nightmare for horses and their owners due to the microbe Dermatophilus congolensis. The microbe infects the animal through the skin of its lower limbs, predominantly the fetlock area.

“Over the past five years staff and students at the University of Lincoln have been investigating potential topical anti-microbial treatments for this disease. In-vitro testing of a specific active ingredient under laboratory conditions resulted in a new formulation. This was then trialled on horses with severe or stubborn cases of the condition in a nationwide field study.”

The anti-microbial and wound healing powder can be puffed onto the wounds, which is of great benefit when the horse is too sore to touch. The anti - microbial cream can then be applied once the horse has become less sensitive, usually within just a matter of days. Results were so encouraging that this product was developed further with a manufacturer of animal health products and is now commercially available.

Sharon Macadam’s fourteen-year-old Dutch Warm blood, Punica, developed mud fever in the Autumn of 2009. The disease led to scabs on her back legs which got progressively worse over the following weeks, making it increasingly hard for her to lie down and walk.

Sharon said: “Every time Punica moved her legs the skin would split and it was obvious that this was very painful for her. I tried treatments from the vet and almost everything on the market but to no avail. It was heart breaking to see her in such pain and I was seriously at the point of having her put to sleep.”

Within the first week of taking part in the field trials, Sharon noticed a big improvement in Punica’s condition and, after the first month, the legs were no longer splitting as much and she was able to ride her lightly again. “From then on it got better every week and Punica’s mud fever has since been kept at bay,” she said.

Mr Ruedisueli added: “After all the effort put in by staff and students, it is great to see research resulting in a practical application. This shows students that undergraduate research does contribute to animal health in the long term. New research projects with potential practical application are constantly being developed in the University’s Department of Biological Sciences, providing new opportunities for students and furthering knowledge in this area.”

Lincoln Muddy Buddy Magic Mud Kure powder/cream is manufactured by Battles, Hayward and Bower in Lincoln. It is available at selected pet and equine stores across the UK. See www.battles.co.uk for retailer information.
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