Equine wound care: Everything old is new again
Humans and the animals they have domesticated and cared for historically have been susceptible to dermal trauma and wounds. Developing healing agents for those wounds has been crucial to survival.
The 19th century discovery of disinfectants, along with a greater understanding of the causes of infection and factors associated with disease spread, greatly accelerated our ability to treat dermal wounds. The discovery, rapid development and quick acceptance of antibiotics in the 20th century was likely the greatest single step forward in wound care; however, the shift to antibiotics also meant a decline in use of many of these former remedies. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of pathogens in the 21st century, however, and the decrease in the production of newer antibiotics capable of fighting these often multi-antibiotic-resistant bugs has led to a revival of sorts, with renewed attention being paid to many of the older treatment methods. Many of these options were never fully researched or used previously, and they may well hold the key to being able to stay ahead of infections in the coming century (Photos 1 and 2).
"Old school" treatment options
Fresh science applied to older products and remedies may produce useful information and give equine practitioners a few more options, even though they may be "old school" options when treating dermal wounds.
Rose Cooper, PhD, a lecturer in microbiology at the Centre for Biomedical Sciences, University of Wales Institute Cardiff, U.K., has published an exhaustive review of evidence for the use of topical antimicrobial agents in wound care. She also urges caution in interpreting this information.
"Overall, the evidence concerning the efficacy of topical antimicrobial agents in the management of wounds is confusing," Cooper writes. "It must be remembered that it [published studies and evidence of effectiveness] originates from multiple sources, which are not directly comparable."
Cooper lists the following factors as variables that cloud what we know from studies of topical antimicrobial agents: concentration tested, contact time, species used for testing, temperature and number and type of organisms present. "Larger, better-designed trials to assess clinical efficiency and cost implications are necessary," says Cooper. But there's still value in reviewing what we do know—and possibly where and how this information may be used—when faced with the treatment of a dermal injury."