Friday, February 27, 2015

Ringworm in Cats

Ringworm (dermatophytosis) is a highly contagious fungal infection that affects the skin, nails, and hair of cats, dogs, and humans.  Because the infection can be transmitted from a cat to other cats, dogs, and humans, it's important for pet owners to know the signs of an infection in order to get it treated as quickly as possible.

Signs and Symptoms

Three species of fungi are responsible for causing ringworm in cats: Microsporum Canis, Microsporum Gypseum, and Trichophyton Mentagrophytes.  The most telling sign that a cat has ringworm is the presence of flaky bald patches with red centers.  These lesions are most commonly found on a cat's head, forelegs, chest, and along the ridge of the back, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.  Other cats may present with circular, thickened areas of skin with hair loss.  WebMD asserts that sometimes a cat with a mild case of ringworm will only present with dandruff or localized red areas.  In severe cases, ringworm can spread all over a kitty's body.  

Infection of the cat's claws occasionally occurs as well.  An infected cat's claws may become rough and uneven or deformed.

Some cats may have ringworm but show no clinical signs of the infection; these cats are known as asymptomatic carriers.  Up to 20% of kitties with ringworm are asymptomatic carriers, according to Cat World.  

WebMD asserts that kittens under one year of age and senior cats are most susceptible to the infection as are longhair and immunocompromised kitties.  

Transmission

Ringworm can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal or human or indirectly through touching contaminated surfaces or handling contaminated objects.  According to VCA Animal Hospitals, fungal spores can remain on objects, such as furniture, brushes or combs, food and water bowls, and bedding for up to 18 months.  

Coming into contact with an infected animal or person or with contaminated objects does not always lead to infection.  In general, healthy adult people do not develop an infection unless they have a cut or other break in the skin.  Those who are most at risk of developing a ringworm infection are children, elderly individuals, people with skin sensitivities, and those with weak immune systems.  

Diagnosis

A Wood's lamp (a special ultraviolet lamp) can be used to diagnose ringworm caused by Microsporum Canis, as it gives off a yellow-green fluorescence when the skin is examined in a darkened room.  However, the preferred method for diagnosing ringworm is through a culture.  Skin and hair scrapings are taken from the kitty and sent to a laboratory.  It may take a few days to a few weeks to grow a positive culture.  

Treatment

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, ringworm is self-limiting in a lot cats, with the infection clearing up in three to five months.  However, treatment is always recommended in order to minimize the spread of the infection to other animals and humans.  Treatment is most often a combination of topical ointment and oral medication.  However, for treatment to be successful, environmental contamination must also be dealt with.  

Traditionally, the oral medication, griseofulvin, has been utilized in the treatment of ringworm; however, newer medications, such as terbinafine and itraconazoleare are sometimes preferred as they have fewer side effects.  Treatment with topical ointment and/or oral medication is typically required for several weeks or months.  Periodic cultures will be taken during the course of treatment.  Treatment will be necessary until two consecutive cultures come back negative for ringworm.  

If there is more than one pet in the house, you may want to separate the infected pet and try to treat him or her alone.  Other times, it's best to treat all the pets in the household for ringworm.  Your vet can help you determine the best course of action for your specific circumstances.

Eliminating fungal spores in the environment is also required in the treatment of ringworm.  Use a 1:10 or 1:100 bleach to water solution to disinfect surfaces.  Additionally, damp mopping and vacuuming of floors should be done as often as possible to remove fungal spores from floors.  To remove fungal spores from furniture, use your vacuum or an electrostatic cleaner.  VCA Animal Hospitals also suggests restricting an infected cat to easy-to-clean rooms of the house.  

Utilizing these strategies can increase the likelihood of successful treatment and minimize the likelihood of the infection spreading to other members of your family.  

Sources:





30 comments:

  1. Thank cod none of us have had ringworm.

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  2. Luckily this is one thing we haven't had to deal with.

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  3. We are so lucky to have never had to deal with this nor Mom!

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  4. The shelter I adopted Truffles (and Tara) had a ringworm outbreak just before the holidays and had to shut down for over a month :(

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  5. Wow, that was useful but I hope I never have to deal with this. One of the shelter fosters had a cat with ringworm and she couldn't foster any other cats for at least six months.

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  6. Good info. I boned up on it after learning there was ringworm at the shelter where I volunteer where they were quarantined and we needed to take special precautions as it is zoonotic.

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  7. That was great and we had no idea about ring worm.

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  8. Do you know that some humans think ringworm is actually a worm? I'm glad you are educating them!

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  9. Oh. FAB article! Really well done. We knew it could be passed to people and have always been on the look out for it. Didn't realize it could show up as dandruff. Yikes! - Crepes.

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  10. Ringworm is no joke. The cats from the hoarding situation that Moosey came from had ringworm, and they all (Moosey included) had to be treated when they first came to PAWS. For a long time, Moosey had a slight yellowish tint to his (white) fur.

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  11. A really informative post - thanks for helping to raise awareness. Our three kitties all had ringworm as babies and it took months to eradicate it completely.

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  12. We sure hope this nevfur happens to us or any kitty we know.

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  13. Another very good post on something our pawrents need to know about. My little brofur, Mr Buttons, had ringworm along with his brofur when he was little. They were in the foster room so we were safe. In his case the ringworm looked like warts on his toes and one on his side. Dad questioned the vet about this and he said in some cases this is what it looks like. His brofurs cleared really fast while Buttons took 4-5 weeks. We did not know he had FIV at that time so that may have been why. Dad put medicine on him daily and we are so happy that he has been totally fine since.
    Oh, by the way, he is a failed foster and we are so glad because he is such a good kitty.
    Purrs
    Timmy

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    1. Thanks for the extra info supplementing a great post, Timmy

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  14. Great info. We're lucky we never got it. Purrs

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  15. Thank you for an excellent post. We ended up adopting our now angel MacKenzie when he had ringworm. Luckily it didn't spread to any of the humans or other kitties.

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  16. Luckily this is one thing I haven't had to deal with !

    XOXO

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  17. When we thought Henry might have ringworm, we threw out all the non-washable toys and cleaned the house from top to bottom. Including shampooing furniture and carpets. Not fun!

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  18. I didn't know ringworm was quite so contagious. We have a lot of feral cats in our neighborhood. I'll have to look out for these symptoms on our local cats so my dogs stay safe.

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  19. Ringworm can be such a pain. Thank goodness it is not something that is typically life-threatening. I had a friend who had to deal with this with her family for months and months because it kept getting passed between human family members and the cat.

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  20. Thank you so much for sharing! Lots of great information.
    Your Fluffy Pal, Spencer the Goldendoodle
    spencerthegoldendoodle.blogspot.com

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  21. Ringworm is a tough one--since it stays in the environment so long and reinfection can happen even after the first bout heals.

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  22. I will share with all my cat loving friends. It's so helpful to have your thorough information. Kitties everywhere will be grateful!

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  23. Anybody can get ringworm. JD had it once. Vet was showing us scars where he's contracted it. JD's never came back and nobody else got it from him.

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  24. We've had a case of ringworm with our dogs, and it was not fun. This is great information to have, thanks for sharing!

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  25. I am fortunate in that I've not had to deal with ringworm in dogs or cats.

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  26. Ringworms give me the willies; I'm very fortunate to have not had to deal with them. Great information.

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  27. Ringworm freaks me out. Great info here!

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  28. Good information to have. Thank you.

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