Spray, water additive strong allies in 'germ warfare'

Spray, water additive strong allies in 'germ warfare'

Dec 01, 2002

The environment has become a very scary place for people and animals.

There seem to be more and more things "out there" that can cause harm; anthrax spores, smallpox virus, West Nile Virus, many species of bacteria and even different types of chemical agents and toxic gasses.

Some of these potential killing agents are naturally occurring and some are man-made. Some are commonly found in our general environment and some are seen only when effort has been made to introduce them.

First line of defense

Veterinarians are often part of the first line of defense against these agents because protecting animals often protects humans as well.

Animals are commonly affected first and serve as sentinels for the rest of the population. West Nile Virus is a case in point. This virus can cause serious losses in both horses and humans. Most states showed spread of the virus in birds and horses long before the appearance of any human cases.

Any methods that can stop the spread of this virus among horses will almost directly help to decrease its spread in humans.

Stronger mutants

Viruses have been mutating to become stronger or more capable of infecting newer species. Bacteria have adapted to the point where antibiotics and disinfectants are ineffective. New diseases appear weekly and it seems somewhat overwhelming. Fortunately, science has not been standing still. There are many new products and technologies either available now, or in the near future, that will give veterinarians, their clients and their horses a fighting chance.

These products help to clean and disinfect surfaces around our barns, clinics, trailers, and horse show facilities and to kill many of the organisms that are of primary importance in equine practice. These products give horse owners a scientifically sound way to strike back and provide some degree of reassurance that all that can be done to protect against natural disease and bioterrorism is being done.

Protecting water supply

One such product comes from Bioverse Inc. in Bloomington, Minn. This small company specializes in safe, natural products for maintaining clear, healthy conditions in small bodies of water, such as retention ponds, fountains and small lakes.

This company has long been using special blends of bacteria and enzymes to reduce the plant material, bacterial growth and debris seen in these areas.

The past year has seen these products being used, not in small ponds and lakes, but in stock tanks and water troughs. Many clients do not clean these large water tanks frequently enough.

It is not unusual to walk through a field and to find tanks filled with a thick greenish or brownish fluid that contains large amounts of plant material, sludge, algae and debris. Tanks of this nature serve as breeding grounds for bacteria and viral diseases. The number of mosquito larvae found in these stagnant, uncleaned water troughs and stock tanks can be considerable.

Aside from being health hazards, many horses refuse to drink from such tanks and the amount of time and effort needed to clean them, when it is done, can be significant.

Help available

Researchers at Bioverse are providing some help in the problem of dirty water tanks.

Healthy Ponds Stock Tank Water Cleaner provides clients with a safe, easy-to-use method for keeping tanks cleaner. Healthy Ponds contains a special blend of aerobic and facultative anaerobic bacteria and enzymes.

"These non-pathogenic bacteria have been specifically chosen," says Michael Van Erdewyk, a chemist for Bioverse, Inc., "to provide nutrient reduction and accelerated degradation of organic waste."

This combination of bacteria seeks to rapidly use the nutrients or foodstuffs routinely used by the bacteria that commonly promote slime, sludge and plant growth. The enzymes serve to speed up the breakdown of organic wastes that commonly lead to film in the water and to the sour odor often encountered with dirty water buckets.

Synergistic effect

The specific combination of microorganisms in Healthy Ponds has been selected because of their synergistic effect and because of their enhanced cell growth, development rate and their effectiveness over a wide range of organic substances.

In short, "good" bacteria and enzymes were chosen to grow quickly and to effectively out-compete a wide variety of "bad" bacteria.

Unlike many chemical products that can kill bacteria but that can contaminate the water trough immediately after use, Healthy Ponds is completely safe for consumption by humans, horses and all animals.

While this product will not keep a tank as clean as it was the day you bought it, it will significantly reduce the amount of waste material found in water troughs. When the tanks are cleaned, it will require less work, and the newly cleaned tanks will remain free of debris and sludge for roughly 30 days.

The product is a powder that comes in pre-measured packets. One packet is placed inside the patented submersible dispenser, which is then put in the tank. One packet lasts for roughly 30 days and it should be used year round. The product is effective at temperatures as low as 34°F and it does not become more concentrated, and therefore more of a risk for ingestion, as the water level in a tank decreases due to use.

Black fly, mosquito larvae

Soon to be released is a newer version of the Healthy Ponds Stock Tank Cleaner that is 100 percent effective against black fly and mosquito larvae.

This new product contains a naturally occurring bacterium that will kill these larvae. The larvae ingest this product and die rapidly-often in as little as one hour in field trials. The product only affects these specific larvae and is ineffective on adult mosquitoes.

Use of the Healthy Ponds Stock Tank Cleaner will effectively remove water troughs and tanks as potential breeding areas for mosquito larvae and will hopefully reduce the spread of this disease and help to lower the threat of West Nile Virus for horses and humans.


Researchers have determined that bacterial cells have become adapted to surviving in a hostile environment.

They have developed ways to counteract the cleaning and disinfecting that we do.

When a bacteria attaches to a surface it produces extracellular polymers that anchor the cell and that provide a favorable environment for growth and the attachment of more bacteria. These extracellular polymers are called biofilm and it is this biofilm that is resistant to cleaners and sanitizers. A new product is now available that removes biofilm and renders the organism susceptible to the other components of the mixture, which effectively eliminate the bacteria.

Removes bacterial biofilm

StallSafe is an enzymatic mix that has the ability to remove bacterial biofilm. It is a 100 percent natural product that is classified as "food grade" and is non-toxic to humans, animals and even marine life.

The product is available in small pump spray bottles and in a concentrated liquid that can be used to clean and disinfect larger areas like barns or clinics.

Impressive list

The list of bacteria, viruses and molds that are essentially removed by the use of StallSafe is quite large. E. Coli and Salmonella remain the two most likely causes of severe diarrhea, especially in younger horses.

Many of these stressed horses are out on the show circuit and it is not uncommon to find stains on stall's walls when you enter a show facility. Has that stall been contaminated? Are your clients' horses walking into a difficult situation? Use of StallSafe spray in the stall prior to putting a horse in there may help reduce the number of infections seen. Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, rotavirus, Rhodococcus, and anthrax are just some of the many organisms that are effectively removed with StallSafe.

Many types of mold are affected by StallSafe as is legionella, cryptosporiosis, Candida, sarin gas, mustard gas and other less known agents.

Stallsafe can be used to disinfect trailers, bedding, tack, saddle pads and any number of things that can potentially affect a horse. This product will be effective for more than 30 days which makes it much easier to use and provides a "buffer zone" to help keep certain bacterial infections out of the barn.

No lagger

Science does not usually lag far behind. The adaptations of bacteria and viruses are now able to be met through the use of StallSafe and other similar products.

These products allow veterinarians to recommend ways to disinfect and clean stalls, the barn or the trailer. Use of StallSafe on large breeding farms is recommended. Problems with Rhodococcus infection and many of the weanling-related conditions seen on these farms are effectively eliminated with its use.

While good management and good veterinary care will still be important, these new products may help to keep horses free from any number of new diseases.