Types of Fungal Diseases Found in Horses You Have to Know

Do you know that there are over 70,000 species of fungi? Among that number of fungi species, there are only 50 species that can cause diseases in animals and humans.

There are 4 classes of them: superficial, cutaneous, subcutaneous, and deep mycosis. Superficial fungi affect the skin, cutaneous fungi attack the skin and the hair, subcutaneous fungi are able to spread from the surface to deep tissue, and lastly deep mycosis attack the lower and upper respiratory systems.

Horses can also be affected by this fungal infection. Horses that have fungal infections show some symptoms, such as rapid breathing, cough, nasal discharge, lack of appetite, respiratory distress, weight loss, lesions on skin, ulcerated skin, facial deformation, and hemoptysis.

There are many types of fungal infections experienced by horses. Let’s get to know each type of them and how to prevent those attacking your horse.

  • Candidiasis

Candidiasis is simply defined as a localized fungal disease. This disease affects the mucous membranes and the skin.

It is distributed widely around the world among the variety of animals and is mostly caused by species of the yeast-like fungus called Candida albicans. This fungus is also also one of the causes of yeast infection in cat ears.

C. albicans is a normal inhabitant of the nose, throat, skin, GI tract, and external genitalia of many species of animals.

However, it can create infections due to several factors, such as injury to the mucous membranes, long administration of antibiotics, and other diseases.

The signs of this infection are variable. The infected horses may have watery diarrhea, dehydration, lack of appetite, gradual progression to weakness and death.

There is no specific way to prevent this infection as the yeast-like fungi are present in the environment and even the normal inhabitants of many body surfaces.

The only way to prevent it is by keeping the horses healthy in a clean environment. Moreover, try to minimize injury to the skin, teats, etc.

  • Ringworm (fungal dermatitis)

Ringworm is not a worm, instead it is a fungal infection caused by several organisms. It is one of the causes of patchy hair loss in horses too! It usually appears as rounded hairless patch with crusty and scabby skin.

It commonly affects the face, neck, shoulder, chest, or under the saddle or girth, however, it can also appear anywhere on the body.

The affected areas will be sore and itchy, though they often cause no discomfort, and the horse may also appear healthy.

Several organisms are the causes of this fungal disease, such as the members of the Trichophyton or Mictosporum families.

The fungi is called dermatophytes, mainly consumes keratin, which is the protein forming the structure of hair and epidermal skin cells.

This fungus can survive for months in the environment, and they can be carried on the skin for up to 3 weeks before the signs of infection appear.

Ringworm needs to be treated as if it is left untreated, the lesions will continue to grow and spread. Though the infections might heal on their own eventually, still, the horses would be highly contagious until they do.

Is there any way to prevent this? Yes, there are some! Make sure you don’t share any tack, equipment, and grooming supplies of one horse with another, either at shows or events.

Before bringing new horses to the farm, quarantine your horse at least 2 weeks. This is done to make sure that the new horses don’t carry any ringworm or any other contagious diseases.

If there is an outbreak, make sure to clean and disinfect any tack or equipment along with the wash stalls and fences in the communal areas. Use a power washer to disinfect into all the crevices.

Take a safety caution while cleaning as ringworm can also infect people and other animals, including cats and dogs. Always wear gloves whenever you handle infected horses or exposed equipment.

Ringworm also attacks other animals, such as dogs, rabbits, and guinea pigs. Read more about it in ringworms in guinea pigs and how to treat ringworm in rabbits.

  • Aspergillosis

Aspergillosis in horses is mainly caused by a group of fungi from the aspergillus species. These fungi spores are invisible to the naked eyes but are found naturally in the air.

The fungus causes destructive inflammation in the airway and nasal passages, producing blood from one of the nostrils.

The common symptoms of aspergillosis in horse are bleeding from one nostril, nasal discharge, extreme fatigue, difficult breathing, difficult swallowing, loss of motor skills, shortness of breath, and even death.

To prevent this disease, you have to make sure that you provide healthy environmental condition, such as good ventilation.

When the weather is warm and extremely humid, make sure the horses are protected in an area which is kept cool and humidity can be controlled.

Aspergillosis is also one of the common-but-deadly diseases of broiler chickens. It should be treated seriously.