Acidic ionized water may be useful in cleaning horse wounds, researchers suggest

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria magnified 20,000 times by a scanning electron microscope, with false color added. This was from a vancomycin resistant culture. Content provider: Centers for Disease Control / Matthew J. Arduino. Photo:: Janice Haney Carr (Public domain) via Wikimedia Commons
Staphylococcus aureus bacteria magnified 20,000 times by a scanning electron microscope, with false color added. Content provider: Centers for Disease Control/Matthew J. Arduino. Photo: Janice Haney Carr (public domain) via Wikimedia Commons

Acidic ionized water could be useful as an antiseptic for cleaning horse wounds, being effective against Staphylococcus species, researchers report.

They say the results of their laboratory work are promising, and warrant more work to investigate its potential for wound care.

Horse wounds can be easily infected with bacteria.

Various treatments are available in managing open wounds, including the use of topical antibiotics and antiseptics.

However, antibiotic resistance has been a major concern in connection with chronic wound infections.

Afiqah Zafirah Abdul Rahman and his fellow researchers, writing in the journal Veterinary World, also noted that most of the disinfectant or antiseptic solutions used are chemical based, with varying degrees of toxicity.

They noted that the antibacterial effect of electrolyzed and ionized waters of acidic pH on surface microbial growth reported in previous studies suggests that they can be used as an antiseptic or disinfectant.

However, there is insufficient research on ionized water in veterinary practice.

They set out to test the effectiveness of ionized water at different pH against the growth of common bacteria from horse wounds.

Ten swab samples were collected from infected horse wounds. The bacteria were identified and cultured in a laboratory setting.

The antibacterial effects of the ionized water of pH 2.5 and 4.5 (both acidic), 7.0 (neutral), and 11.5 (alkaline) were tested on Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, Staphylococcus intermedius, Escherichia coli, Pantoea agglomerans and Klebsiella pneumoniae.

The time-kill profiles of the ionized waters were determined at two-hour time intervals up to eight hours.

The study team found that ionized water of pH 2.5 and 4.5 showed antibacterial activity against S. aureus, S. pseudintermedius, and S. intermedius, with a significant reduction in colony-forming ability within 2 to 8 hours.

The degree of bactericidal effect of the acidic ionized water differed between the species, with S. intermedius more susceptible.

The difference in the effect of ionized water among Staphylococcus species could be due to genetic variants and cellular properties that the subspecies possess, the study team said.

Ionized water of pH 2.5 and 4.5 is effective in minimizing the growth of Gram-positive bacteria, they concluded. Gram-positive bacteria have a characteristic thick peptidoglycan layer and no outer lipid membrane.

There was no antibacterial effect at pH 2.5, 4.5, 7.0, and 11.5 on the Gram-negative bacteria tested. Gram-negative bacteria are characterized by a thin peptidoglycan layer and have an outer lipid membrane.

The study team said the acidic ionized water was effective in minimizing the growth of Gram-positive bacteria. “Thus, it could be of clinical importance as an antiseptic for surface wound lavage in horses.”

Future studies should aim to explain the antibacterial mechanism of ionized water on pathogenic bacteria and aid in the development of appropriate therapeutic processes.

Rahman AZA, Adzahan NM, Zakaria Z, Mayaki AM (2021) Antibacterial effect of acidic ionized water on horse wounds bacterial isolates, Veterinary World, 14(5): 1128-1132.

The study, published under a Creative Commons License, can be read here

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