HRV Veterinary Bulletin

10 January 2018
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HRV Veterinary Bulletin

It has come to the attention of HRV Veterinarians that some horses which recently raced at Tabcorp Park Melton have experienced eye infections.  HRV is investigating the matter, and further information will be forthcoming in due course.

Two horses have returned a positive culture of Pseudomonas.

The Pseudomonas bacteria is ubiquitous, that is, it is found everywhere in the environment. It can be found in soil, waterways and is also a normal part of the normal flora on the horse’s skin and eye. There needs to be an injury to the cornea of the eye for infection to occur.

Pseudomonas can be resistant to normal first line defence eye treatment cream. Sometimes the use of an antibiotic cream that doesn’t target Pseudomonas, but kills other bacteria, can assist the Pseudomonas bacteria to flourish.  Pathogen specific eye treatments should be used to eliminate this bacteria.

This time of the year, flies, dust and environmental allergens can also irritate the eye, so particular vigilance is necessary.  All work and race gear as well as horses/drivers should be washed/cleaned as timely as possible after each race or home workout.

Whilst the issue is still being investigated, HRV urges trainers to thoroughly wash and regularly check the eyes of their horses after racing and over the summer period.  If you suspect an eye infection or are treating a current one, HRV urges you report the details to the HRV veterinary department via Veterinarian@hrv.org.au or by phoning 03 8378 0200.

What to look for in an eye:

Regardless of cause, any abrasion to the eye exposes the eye to the potential of bacteria entering and causing infection.

Your horse’s eyes should be clear, bright and lids tight, with the inside of the lid pale pink and moist.

Tearing should be minimal with perhaps only a droplet at the corner of the eye. Sometimes if there is dust, dry air or wind, a horse’s eye might run a bit but it should resolve.

We urge that if you have a non-responsive eye injury to mention to your treating vet the possibility of getting an eye culture and sensitivity test.  Dependent on these results the vet can then use the appropriate eye treatment to treat the bacteria responsible for the infection. This is the best way to ensure you are using the correct treatment for the bacteria responsible.

Cleaning the eyes

A slow dribble of water over the forehead and between the ears letting it run into the eyes is sometimes better tolerated than a faster blast of water. Hose until the 3rd eyelid (pink flap of skin in the inside corner of the eye) is noted to sweep over the eyeball. This allows debris to be cleared and reduces the chances of small particles becoming trapped under this area causing overnight abrasions. Alternatively a clean sponge or rag dampened with water can be used to wipe over or gently dribble into the eye. You may wish to consider eye protection if you are particularly concerned about your horse.

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