Equine Papillomavirus - Translation: Horse Warts
So you've noticed some growths...
If you've ever owned a young horse (under the age of 3) or have ever been in contact with one, you may have had the pleasant experience of seeing growths around their noses, eyes, and/or mouths. These growths can come in small or large forms, often take the appearance of cauliflower, and usually sprout randomly and very quickly.
These growths are often to referred to as warts, but is actually caused by the papillomarvirus. These warts are not contagious to humans, but are contagious to other horses, specifically young horses due to the lack of a strong immunity system.
So what can I do about them?
First of all - don't worry. These warts are typically not harmful to the overall health of your horse and are usually considered just a temporary cosmetic blemish. If left untreated, they will usually go away on their own in time - this can range from 6-9 months.
Treatments to help them go away quicker, especially if you are interested in showing your young horse include:
1. Calling the vet: A vet will normally lance off one of the warts to promote the body to "self-heal". A vet can also culture a wart and produce a vaccine from the wart to give to your horse.
2. Over-the-counter wart remover: There are many over-the-counter human wart remover remedies. These include the type that you can "freeze" off, creams, gels, and "band-aids". The best type that I have found is the gel type. It comes in a tube and first goes on clear, then becomes white as is dries. This makes it easier to identify where you have already put on the medication, especially if there are a lot of warts.
3. Holistic: Thuja Occidentalis can be found online on sites such as http://www.amazon.com or at any local health nutrition store such as http://www.GNC.com. This herbal remedy comes from the bark of a cypress tree and helps promote skin healing. 4 tablets can be given twice a day in the feed. The tablets are small and can be given whole or crushed and mixed in the feed.
4. The old cowboy method: An old-time remedy was to pinch one of the warts off yourself and then feed it to the horse. This method is supposed to help the horse produce its own antibodies.
If you suspect that your horse has warts, it is advised that you separate the horse from others until they are gone. It is also advised that you don't share the same grooming equipment with non-infected horses.
There are many treatments or remedies that can be tried, but as with any medical advice, please contact your veterinarian before trying any at-home remedy.
On a personal note
I personally have used the over-the-counter gel along with the holistic approach and found that my yearling cleared his warts in about 2 months. The gel was applied to his nose both morning and night, and the Thuja Occidentalis pills were also given to him morning and night in his feed.