BAC­TE­RIAL IN­FEC­TIONS

/FTEN BATHING THE HORSE IS ALL THAT IS NEEDED TO CURB THE IN­FEC­TION.

EQUUS - - Eq In Brief -

Healthy, un­bro­ken skin forms a se­cure bar­rier that keeps se­ri­ous pathogens out of a horse’s body. When that bar­rier is com­pro­mised—by chap­ping and crack­ing, or the scratch­ing prompted by itch, for ex­am­ple—bac­te­ria may find a path to es­tab­lish sec­ondary in­fec­tions. The cul­prit is likely to be a bac­terium that is nor­mally a res­i­dent on the sur­face of the skin, such as Sta­phy­lo­coc­cus au­reus or S. in­ter­medius.

“S. au­reus is a com­mon or­gan­ism found on skin. If you are healthy, this small num­ber of staph

bac­te­ria on your skin won’t cause any prob­lems,” says Rosanna Marsella, DVM, DACVD, of the Univer­sity of Florida in Gainesvill­e. “If you or your horse de­velop a skin dis­ease, in­flam­ma­tion or dam­age, the staph bac­te­ria in­crease in num­ber, and this can lead to a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion. About 99 per­cent of the time, if you have skin dis­ease, you also have a staph in­fec­tion, which also sig­nif­i­cantly con­trib­utes to itch­i­ness.”

When the staph bac­te­ria in­fect the hair fol­li­cles, firm, pus-filled nod­ules form then de­velop into crusty ar­eas. “This in­fec­tion fre­quently causes scabs that many peo­ple think is a fun­gus on their horse,” says Marsella. “A true fun­gal in­fec­tion is rare; what of­ten looks like fun­gus is Sta­phy­lo­coc­cus. This is why you shouldn’t be us­ing an­ti­fun­gal treat­ment, like io­dine, on con­di­tions like rain­rot. It’s bet­ter to use ben­zoyl per­ox­ide or chlorhex­i­dine be­cause you are ac­tu­ally try­ing to kill bac­te­ria.”

Of­ten, bathing the horse is all that is needed to curb the in­fec­tion. “For th­ese in­fec­tions, clip­ping and bathing is of­ten the ba­sis of treat­ment,” says Marsella. “Some­times just giv­ing the horse a bath with a med­i­cated sham­poo will kill the bac­te­ria, and then you can fol­low up with some­thing sooth­ing and mois­tur­iz­ing. This can make a dif­fer­ence and help keep the horse com­fort­able.”

STA­PHY­LO­COC­CUS AU­REUS

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