New foot wart treatment looks promising

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The battle against hairy foot warts may have taken a turn in the right direction.

To date, antibiotics have dominated the foot wart battle.

However, using antibiotics in this manner represents an extra-label drug use. And, with this use comes the threat of antibiotic residues working their way into your milk. For example, if you spray an antibiotic foot wart treatment in the parlor - a practice frowned upon by milk inspectors - it can splash onto the udder. Even a small amount can result in antibiotic residues appearing in milk, explains Richard Wallace, dairy extension veterinarian at the University of Illinois.

The threat also exists for foot wart organisms to develop a resistance to antibiotic treatment, an added reason to limit antibiotic use whenever possible.

While the exact cause of foot warts continues to elude researchers, the predominant organisms which cause foot warts appear to be bacterial spirochetes, notes Jan Shearer, dairy extension veterinarian at the University of Florida and a noted authority on hoof care.

So far, antibiotics have been able to minimize the damage caused by these organisms. However, research indicates that non-antibiotics may be able to compete side-by-side with antibiotics.

For example, in the March 1 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Shearer and associates reported that a non-antibiotic product applied as a topical spray worked just as well as oxytetracycline in treating foot warts.

And, recent findings from a study at the University of Illinois indicate that a non-antibiotic treatment worked just as well as oxytetracycline when used as a topical spray. (Please see the graph on page 72.)

Keep in mind, these studies focused on topical spray treatments. Further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of non-antibiotics when used in a foot bath or under a bandage.

While the new research looks promising, don't expect a spray treatment to eliminate the foot wart problem completely. The strawberry-like sores re-appear at a very high rate - about 45 percent - no matter what you use to treat them, Shearer says. It's not clear if the lesions go into remission or if cows become reinfected. Some of the infective organisms may lie in areas of the foot that remain untouched by a topical spray. At least you can reduce the problem with treatment. And, a topical spray is by far the most economical way to treat foot warts.

A foot wart is not a deep infection. In fact, it's a very superficial lesion, which "probably accounts for our ability to treat it topically," Shearer says.

Non-antibiotic sprays are usually in the form of a chemical disinfectant which exhibits antimicrobial activity.

As more positive results emerge on the use of non-antibiotics, it may be an effective alternative to antibiotic foot wart treatment on your dairy.
University of Florida research

A study at the University of Florida indicates a non-antibiotic formulation shows good results against foot warts.

Researchers applied a topical spray consisting of either oxytetracycline, one of four non-antibiotic solutions or a tap water control to cows with foot wart lesions. On days 14 and 30 of the trial, they recorded the number of cows that showed signs of pain and visible lesions.

As indicated in the table below, one cow out of 11 showed signs of pain on day 14 of the trial when treated with oxytetracycline. And, a formulation of solubilized copper, a peroxy compound and a cationic agent, marketed commercially as Victory(tm) by Westfalia-Surge, was just as effective as oxytetracycline, with only two cows out of 14 showing signs of pain on day 14. What's more, this non-antibiotic treatment was more effective than the other three non-antibiotic treatments.
University of Illinois research

Results from a recent study at the University of Illinois indicate that a non-antibiotic foot wart treatment worked as effectively as oxytetracycline.

Researchers applied a topical spray consisting of either oxytetracycline, the non-antibiotic solution manufactured by PR Pharmaceuticals and marketed commercially as DuraCept(tm), or a tap water control to cows classified as having severe, mild or no foot wart lesions. On days 17 and 33 of the trial, they scored the hooves again.

The researchers found that cows with mild lesions, as indicated by a score of 1, remained the same or experienced reduced pain scores at 17 and 33 days after treatment with oxytetracycline or the non-antibiotic. As the bar graph indicates below, cows with severe lesions, indicated by a score of 2, had lower pain scores at 17 and 33 days after treatment with the non-antibiotic and oxytetracycline.



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