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Research Assessment #2

Diagnosis and Treatment of the Pruritic Horse- Pyoderma (Bacterial Skin Infections)

Date: 10/18/20

Subject: Diagnosis and Treatment of the Pruritic Horse- Pyoderma (Bacterial Skin Infections)

MLA/APA citation:  

White, Stephen  D. “Pyoderma (Bacterial Skin Infections).” American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP)

        Proceedings, vol. 52, 2006, pp. 457–463.


        This particular article had a broad overview of many types of bacterial skin infections that are present in horses. I found this extremely relevant to my research regarding my original work because it will help me determine common bacteria or fungus present that is being caused by wet conditions or problems with the tack (saddle pad) on the horse. Having this somewhat surface view of various bacterial infections that can arise from consistently damp conditions regarding saddle pads will allow me to begin connecting these possible bacteria issues to the materials in saddle pads. 

        One of the first skin conditions that really grabbed my attention in this article is “Dermatophilus congolensis” which causes “a serious source of infection when [the] lesions are moistened” and are caused by the combinations of “a carrier animal, moisture, and skin abrasions” (White). While this infection appears to be more centralized to the legs of the horse, is it possible that a mild case of this could develop where a saddle pad is used? There are times where a saddle pad may cause small sores or rubs on a horse with thin skin and a single pad is typically used on multiple horses without being washed or completely dried. This prompted me to really consider that, while possibly unlikely, there is a possibility that a bacterial infection such as this could manifest itself through the use of damp and shared saddle pads. I think this will lead me to look at materials that dry somewhat quickly and a way to insert some kind of safe chemical that might kill this bacteria before it can spread to another horse. 

        Another bacterial infection that I came across while reading this article was a “Dermatophyte infection” which is an infection on the very surface of the skin that in mild cases can cause a “moth-eaten appearance with desquamation and alopecia” (White). When I continued reading and found that “Tack (bridles, halters, and saddle blanket” act as catalysts for the growth of this bacteria, I began to realize that this bacterial infection is most likely the common thing people experience on their horses backs (White). While this is likely not a definitive answer that applies to all horses in all situations it definitely provides a clear context for the next portion of my research. An infection like this while starting out superficial can eventually lead to a severe case that requires IV antibiotics to combat (White). To me, it is imperative that I find out more about the different strains and characteristics of this bacteria so I can find a way, with materials, to prevent this growth on saddle pads. What kind of materials keep bacteria from growing? Is there anything special about this bacteria that may make it resistant to some medications or materials? Is this particular bacteria truly at the heart of the problem I am trying to solve? 

        When examining further information in the article about this bacteria, I found that there were several references to damp or wet conditions regarding the tack or saddle pad in connection with the growth of the infection. Does any part of the structure of the saddle pad have to do with the ability of the saddle pad to dry out? Would there be a way to promote air flow in the structure in order to help the saddle pad dry out and keep the moisture found between the back of the horse and the saddle pad where they sweat down enough to eliminate this issue? I definitely think that the next part of my research needs to focus not only on the specifics and details of these bacterial infections but also the kinds of materials that could have a positive or negative impact on the horse. 

        Overall, this article was a vital introduction to the bacteria or fungus that can be found in correlation with the use of saddle pads. I believe that this will give me a better understanding of what exactly I am trying to combat and allow me to shift my focus a bit more towards the chemical engineering side of this project. While I am enjoying the research, I definitely want to get started on the design and development of my saddle pad.

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