JOURNAL ARTICLE

The antimicrobial activity of honey against common equine wound bacterial isolates

R Carnwath, E M Graham, K Reynolds, P J Pollock
Veterinary Journal 2014, 199 (1): 110-4
23962613
Delayed healing associated with distal limb wounds is a particular problem in equine clinical practice. Recent studies in human beings and other species have demonstrated the beneficial wound healing properties of honey, and medical grade honey dressings are available commercially in equine practice. Equine clinicians are reported to source other non-medical grade honeys for the same purpose. This study aimed to assess the antimicrobial activity of a number of honey types against common equine wound bacterial pathogens. Twenty-nine honey products were sourced, including gamma-irradiated and non-irradiated commercial medical grade honeys, supermarket honeys, and honeys from local beekeepers. To exclude contaminated honeys from the project, all honeys were cultured aerobically for evidence of bacterial contamination. Aerobic bacteria or fungi were recovered from 18 products. The antimicrobial activity of the remaining 11 products was assessed against 10 wound bacteria, recovered from the wounds of horses, including methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Eight products were effective against all 10 bacterial isolates at concentrations varying from <2% to 16% (v/v). Overall, the Scottish Heather Honey was the best performing product, and inhibited the growth of all 10 bacterial isolates at concentrations ranging from <2% to 6% (v/v). Although Manuka has been the most studied honey to date, other sources may have valuable antimicrobial properties. Since some honeys were found to be contaminated with aerobic bacteria or fungi, non-sterile honeys may not be suitable for wound treatment. Further assessment of gamma-irradiated honeys from the best performing honeys would be useful.

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