Ringworm is an annoying, highly contagious fungal disorder that is curable. The problem with this disorder is that there are 35 different species of ringworm that can affect cats, dogs and be transmitted to humans as well. The most common form is Mircosporum Canis which accounts for the majority of ringworm cases.
Ringworm is caused from exposure to the dermatophytes from spores present in the environment, mainly from other animals that are infected with it. Your pet could pick it up from anywhere...boarding kennels, breeding kennels, someone else's home. The spores can live in the environment for up to 13 months and are very hard to get rid of, so reinfection of animals is also a common problem. As well, children are highly susceptible to these infections, so it is very important to rid the household of this fungus as soon as possible.
This disorder usually appears as a lesion upon the skin of an animal or human and requires medical attention. It looks like a rapidly growing circular patch of broken hair in most cases. The patch may look somewhat inflamed and appear to have "dandruff" like flakes on it. However, sometimes it is very hard to spot ringworm, especially in longhaired cats or dogs. The fungus can also affect a cat's claws where they become roughened and pitted.
A veterinarian can usually diagnose ringworm by using an ultraviolet light. In some cases however, this isn't enough and a sample of hair or scrapping of the skin is needed for further diagnosis. Treatment is basically in the form of antifungal pills and/or topical medications such as creams or medicated shampoos.
The major problem is getting rid of the spores in your home so they don't reinfect your pets. Most spores are shed through the fur into the carpet, so occasional "dip" baths may be required to kill the spores that may on the fur of cats and dogs. As well, it is recommended that you destroy all pet bedding, blankets, brushes/combs, scratching posts and other items used by the pets. Any items that cannot be thrown out need to be soaked thoroughly in a solution of hot water and Betadine or Iodophor for one hour. They should then be rinsed in a mixture of water and ..5% chlorine bleach. Drying the items outdoors in sunlight will also help. Vacuum your house thoroughly and be sure to immediately dispose of the vacuum bag. Then have all carpets and upholstery steam-cleaned and wash all walls with a mixture of water and chlorine bleach. If you have an air filter in your home, you must also dispose of the filter.
Although ringworm is a mild disorder, it can cause a tremendous amount of problems to a household. If you continue to have problems with reinfection, please consult your veterinarian for additional solutions or information that he/she may be able to provide.
Dealing with Ringworms in Dogs and Cats
by Rose Smith, Copyright 2003
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