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Naomi Preston, TTEAM Practitioner

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Facts and Fiction:

White Line Disease and Thrush

(Fusobacterium necrophorum)


The adage is as old as the history of the species, “No Hoof-No Horse”. Another adage that

humans live by is “Healthy as a horse”. The anomaly here is that when horses do get sick the breeding ground for many of its illnesses is its hoof. Hoof ailment treatment regimens range from veterinarian products to home remedies. As with any disease or infection, there is always confusion as to what the diseases are and what actually causes them. The facts are that in most cases, the infections are not the result of any single organism but rather a combination of bacterial and fungal pathogens. This makes dealing with the problem complicated as there are very few if any products which will effectively attack and deactivate the combination of the two.


Before a treatment can be derived, it is important to understand the nature of the infection

causing organisms-what they are as where and what they need to live. Short term remedies

involve the curing of the disease when it occurs. Long term more progressive procedures

involve eliminating the source of the disease and continuing with a process which will keep

the horse and its hoof healthy over the long term.


White Line Disease (WLD) and thrush are two completely different maladies. They are similar however in some critical aspects. The two maladies are being combined as the Summit Animal Health Healthy Hoof Program will address both with a similar treatment program. Thrush is a malady of the frog. It is caused by the bacterium Fusobacterium necrophorum. This is the same bacteria which causes hoof rot in cattle. The characteristics of this bacterium are that it is anaerobic (it survives without the presence of oxygen), thrives in moist environments and exists in unclean environments such as stagnant water or manure laden corrals. When the bacteria come in contact with the frog, it attaches to the outer tissue (horn tissue). It can then penetrate into the vascular tissue and shock absorbing layers called the deep digital cushion. When this occurs there is typically the presence of black pus and a strange putrid odor. If treated early, thrush can be readily healed, if left untreated, it can be debilitating to the horse.


An interesting fact about F necrophorum-it is responsible for 10% of all acute and 21% of

recurring sore throats in humans. Other complications include meningitis and infections of

the urogenital and gastrointestinal tracts.


White Line Disease on the other hand is a much more complicated problem. Its cause remains a mystery. It is theorized that it is caused by a combination of bacterial and fungal infection making treatment difficult. Similar to thrush, it is likely that the bacterium is anaerobic and the presence of high levels of moisture and infectious stagnant area will enhance its growth. WLD manifests itself in the hoof by causing the deterioration of the sole resulting in its separation from the outer wall of the hoof. There are 3 signs WLD might exist. The first sign is the appearance of a powdery residue along the outer edge of the hoof sole. Second, the sole area will feel warm, indications that internal infection may be present. Third, the sole area will have a putrid, rotting flesh smell. The problem with WLD is that it breaks down the protective barrier between the outside world and the delicate inner wall of the hoof. When breached, bacteria and fungus will quickly attack and accelerate the separation of the laminae and hoof wall causing the coffin bone to rotate. As the deterioration continues, pain increases and can ultimately result in laminitis and the euthanatizing of the animal.


Treatment procedures for these diseases vary. In most cases White Line Disease and Thrush are treated with copper or iodine based chemistries with varying results. The problem with standard procedures is quite simple. One disease is caused by a combination of bacteria and fungus and the other is theorized to be caused by an unknown bacteria. If you do not know what is causing the infection, it is difficult to ascertain what remedy should be used to cure it.


Summit Animal Health’s technical staff researched this problem for over two years before

developing a solution. The SAH Health Hoof Treatment Program is a 3-Step Process. Its

effectiveness is based on the EnvizO3-Shieldtm Technology formulation. EnvizO3-

Shieldtmis an oxygen activated broad spectrum antimicrobial chemistry which is integrated into a liquid foam spray (Q-Foamtm) as well as a topical ointment (QOintmenttm). Because the formulation has broad spectrum effectiveness, it does not care whether the infectious cells are bacterial, fungal, or viral. The oxygen component readily deactivates anaerobic bacteria. In fact it oxidizes the cell walls of the bacteria causing them to lyses or “bleed” out. The broad spectrum antimicrobial chemistry within the formulation does not poison the cell but rather shuts down its metabolic process. Thus there can be no possibility of a chemical mutation or the development of a more resistant strain of the organism. The products contain a natural anti-inflammatory component which works to reduce pain and swelling.


Treatment is simple. Step 1-Clean the hoof thoroughly removing all potentially infection laden debris. Step 2-Dispense Q-Foamtm on the sole and frog allowing it to absorb and attack the infection causing organisms. Step 3-Apply a thin coat of

Q-Ointmenttmto the frog, sole and coronary band. Q-Ointmenttm continues to deactivate the bacteria and fungus while providing a protective barrier against intrusion of moisture, organic material or other infectious organisms. It also enhances the healing process. The key to a healthy hoof is keeping the hoof wall hard while maintaining a supple sole and frog. While it might be difficult to change the environment where your horse lives, regular use of these products will be the best preventative solution to keeping your horse sound.


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