Some horses manage to injure themselves for example by finding the only fence board wire or loose fence board and causing cuts. These types of cuts are difficult to keep clean and take time to heal making the chance of infection a worry.
Although the idea goes against what we believe, researchers in Canada and New Zealand are working on a virus to heal wounds. That virus is called an “orf” virus which is a parapovirus that causes a highly contagious skin disease is hoofed animals and humans.
At the University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Dr. Christine Theoret, Director of Comparative Veterinary Tissue Healing Laboratory in the Department of Veterinary Biomedicine says the idea is very safe and is promising. The scientists don’t apply the actual virus to wounds, but specific proteins from the orf virus.
Wounds are still carefully kept clean and protected from infection as well as can be done. Dr. Theoret says “there is no risk of viral infection.” Other studies in mice have shown the 2 proteins from the orf virus worked well in wound healing.
Dr. Theoret also stated that while testing did not appear to speed the healing process, improvements were seen in inflammation and immune responses. Research and testing are ongoing.
For more in-depth articles, please refer to the upcoming issue of “Wound Repair and Regeneration” – “Short-term treatment of equine wounds with orf virus.”