Chris Blevins and Skin Diseases in Equines

(Dr. Chris Blevins) Hello and welcome to Horsing Around. I’m Dr. Chris Blevins of Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center. Today, we’re going to talk about something that is always a concern with most horses, especially during the summer, and that’s skin diseases and issues. We have to remember that the skin is actually the largest organ of the body, and so with that, trying to protect and keep it healthy is important. Now skin issues are mainly seen during the summer and we can even categorize those skin issues into two different categories: contagious, that of which can go from one horse to the other; versus non-contagious skin diseases, that of which cannot be transferred from one horse to the other. In addition with the contagious, there are some skin diseases that can even be transferred to you or I, to humans. We always need to be concerned potentially with that also. One of the first ones that we’ll kind of talk about that is contagious is ectoparasites. That is bugs that live on the horse. Not necessarily a good thing in most aspects, especially during the summer or even in the winter, when we consider lice. We have to remember though that lice do not go from horses to humans, but they can sure go from horse to horse, and you can see them on the horse usually under the mane and more prevalent usually in the winter when the horses are kind of huddled together. The other one is mites. Some horses can even get mites and they’re usually pretty itchy with those also. They can be under the neck, or under the ventrum, or underneath the mane, but they’re usually really itchy even on the head. Veterinarian would be able to diagnose those things and some of them are even reportable because of their contagious nature. One of the most common mites is the feather mite that is usually found in draft horses around their hooves. I think, again, getting your veterinarian involved for some of those things, there are some treatment options for that and it sure could help if you ever notice any of those things. The other one that is contagious is a fungus, ringworm. Horses can get ringworm. Horses could transmit ringworm from one horse to the other, but also to you as a human. I think if you ever notice that type of lesions, they’re circular little lesions on the skin, that you contact your veterinarian and figure out the best treatment options for those things too. Other than treatment, the other thing is management, and I think keeping things clean, remember, brushes can actually transmit from one horse to the other. So what you think is doing a good thing by grooming your horse or putting the saddle pad on one horse and the other, could be transferring of diseases including that of which is on the skin especially. I think the other thing to remember is that sometimes environment can cause different disease processes to start. One of the other ones is a virus that can be on the skin, papilloma virus. That is warts. Horses can get warts. They can get warts on their muzzle. They can even get a wart in their ear. A lot of times that’s transmitted by insects, flies and those things, especially into the ear. So what do you need to do for those? A lot of time, the immune system will go ahead and take care of it on its own, but you can contact your veterinarian and sure ask him about different medications and other modalities of trying to help prevent or get rid of warts. I think with some of those, there’s sure a lot of others things including a lot of flies and just regular dermatitis. Talk to your veterinarian if you’re concerned how to prevent it, how to treat it. Even give us a call here at Kansas State University Veterinarian Health Center, if you have those additional questions. I’m Dr. Chris Blevins at Kansas State Vet School and we’ll see you around.

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