New veterinary treatment offers promise for wound care, infections

Dec 4, 2009

Ranchers are always looking to add another weapon to their arsenal of treatments for infection in horses and cattle. Wounds, pink eye, abscesses, skin infections, and many other conditions can compromise performance and be costly to treat. Although antibiotics have long proved invaluable to ranchers and horse owners, these treatments also have some potential drawbacks: cost, occasional resistance of the infection to antibiotics, and incompatibility with natural or organic protocol, among others. Now, a pioneering company out of California has developed an interesting alternative to traditional wound and infection treatment that ranchers might soon want to consider as a useful tool to add to their doctoring kit. The product is Vetericyn, based on technology developed by Oculus Innovative Sciences, developer and manufacturer of Microcyn, a similar infection and wound treatment designed for human use.

According to Vetericyn’s Web site, Vetericyn is unique because it fights infection by using the same process that is used by the immune system. Vetericyn mimics the action of neutrophils, one type of white blood cell, by surrounding pathogens with an oxy-chlorine compound, creating what is called an “oxidative burst.” Single-cell pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses are unable to survive in such an environment.

According to studies, this technology platform is effective in killing a wide range of pathogens within only 30 seconds of contact with the spray, among them staph, strep, pasteurella, and E coli. Further, unlike some antibiotics, bacteria, viruses and fungus have so far not demonstrated the ability to become resistant to Vetericyn.

Interestingly, however, although Vetericyn is highly toxic to pathogens, it is not toxic to the body. Because Vetericyn uses the same chemical profile as the immune system in attacking pathogens and is ph-neutral, it is compatible with the body’s chemistry and can be safely and painlessly used in eyes and around the nose and mouth. It is gentle to healthy tissue, and application of the clear spray or gel is painless. Animals treated with Vetericyn can lick their wounds without danger of ingesting toxic substances. Indeed, according to Oculus’ research, in over 25 clinical trials, and in use on over 1 million human patients worldwide, the Microcyn platform on which Vetericyn is based has not been reported to cause a single instance of adverse effects.

And not only is Vetericyn considered non-toxic, but according to studies, it can also help to speed healing times by up to 60 percent due to increased presence of oxygen at the site of the wound or infection.

In short, according to Vetericyn’s literature, “Vetericyn is a completely nontoxic anti-bacterial, antifungal and anti-viral that is environmentally friendly and safe as water.”

It is not surprising that given these rather amazing properties, Vetericyn’s “Holy Water” reputation (as Forbes magazine dubbed the Microcyn technology) can be as much a liability as it is a blessing. Ranchers are a skeptical bunch, and a product this great probably sounds too good to be true. But some animal owners and vets are already using this unusual new product to excellent effect. Brad Gordon, DVM, of the Equine Referral Clinic in Runnells, IA, is a strong proponent. Says Gordon, “I was really skeptical at first,” when he was sent some samples of Vetericyn to evaluate. “In the course of a year, we get about 50 to 60 products to evaluate, and those that stick around are very few and far between.” Gordon says he set aside his initial doubts after using the product and dispensing it to clients. “We’ve been real happy with it. It’s really wonderful stuff. It’s antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal, and it is also very gentle to the normal, healthy tissue that you apply it to.” Gordon also notes that Vetericyn is an anti-inflammatory, which speeds the rate of healing.

Gordon adds that although Vetericyn is an excellent treatment, it’s not necessarily a cure-all in every conceivable situation: “It’s not meant to replace vet care, but it’s a nice one-step product. Because it’s totally nontoxic, a person can’t really go wrong in its application.”

Gordon also points out that Vetericyn is an excellent treatment for people who have no immediate access to professional animal care. “It’s a great option for clients who are quite a ways from a vet. It’s a nice product for them to use as a kind of treatment they can do before they can get a vet to look at it.”

Due to its non-toxcicity and non-drug status, Vetericyn anticipates rapid approval for use in food animals by the Food and Drug Administration. Vetericyn also plans to seek approval for use in organic production protocols. Because Vetericyn is neither an antibiotic nor a steroid, organic and natural producers, as well as other producers working within an antibiotic-free protocol, may want to consider Vetericyn in the future. As with all new products, it is important for niche-market producers to check with their certifier in order to verify that Vetericyn is compatible with their particular program.

Producers will have to determine for themselves whether Vetericyn is the holy water it is reputed to be, but the outlook is promising. Microcyn is already turning heads in the human medical field for unprecedented success in treating wounds, burns, and infections in human patients.

And a gentle, non-toxic, and highly effective treatment for wounds and infections would certainly make a welcome addition to anyone’s vet room or doctoring bag. — Andy Rieber, WLJ Correspondent