Specimens of hoof horn from 187 horses were examined for a possible relationship between clinically affected hooves and the occurrence of pathogenic fungi. Specimens were taken from the coronary band and from the stratum extemum and medium of the coronary horn and transferred on to Sabouraud dextrose agar, with and without cycloheximide, and incubated at 28°C Dermatophytes and mould fungi were identified by their macroscopic and microscopic characteristics. The 732 isolates could be assigned to 26 species of moulds, two different species of the dermatophyte Microsporum and three different species of the dermatophyte Trichophyton. Depending on their pathogenic potential they were assigned to three groups: (i) fungi known to be keratinopathogenic (Acremonium blochii, Altemaria altemata, Altemaria chiamydospora, Geotrichum candidum, Microsporum ferrugineum, Microsporum gypseum, Scopulariopsis brevicaulis, Trichophyton species, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Trichophyton schönleinii, 57 isolates), (ii) a group of uncertain pathogenicity (223 isolates), and (iii) a group of non-pathogenic species (452 isolates). Eighty per cent of the samples from horses with hoof hom lesions and 66.7 per cent of the samples from horses with slightly affected hoof horn contained fungi of the keratinopathogenic group, whereas only 8.9 per cent of the samples from horses with healthy hoof hom contained fungi of this group. There were no significant correlations between the clinical data and the age, sex or breed of the horses or their bedding and hygiene. Twelve species of fungi were isolated from the air in the horses' stables, but none of them belonged to the keratinopathogenic group.
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