Zoonosis is an infectious disease that spreads between species – from humans to animals and vice versa. So, World Zoonoses Day is celebrated every July 6 to honor the achievements of Louis Pasteur, a renowned biologist who developed the first rabies vaccine. In honor of this significant day, Mt. Carmel Animal Hospital discusses the zoonotic ringworm infection in pets.
What is Ringworm?
Ringworm is the prevalent name for a fungal infection of the hair, skin, and nails. Ringworm can occur in humans and all domesticated animals. The name is a bit misleading because a worm does not cause the infection, and the associated rashes are not always ring-shaped. In contrast, the medical term for ringworm is dermatophytosis. Some dermatophytosis will only infect one species, whereas others can be spread among various species of animals or from animals to humans.
Transmission of Ringworm
Ringworm is highly contagious and your pet can directly transmit the fungus to others. It may be transmitted by an infected animal or person. The fungal spores might remain dormant on combs, brushes, food bowls, bedding, or other environmental surfaces for up to 18 months. As a result, the fungus can be transmitted by touching these contaminated surfaces.
Exposure does not always lead to infection, but precautions must be taken when handling infected animals. Gloves should be worm when handling a positive pet. It is best to keep that pet confined to one room to avoid the spreading of spores as much as possible. The environment should be cleaned daily. A concentrated bleach solution (one pint of bleach in one gallon of water) can be used for hard surfaces.
Signs or Symptoms
Ringworm in dogs typically appears as hair loss areas that are mainly circular. Although these lesions are not generally itchy, they sometimes become inflamed and form a scabby covering. In most cases, the dog will have multiple patches scattered throughout the body.
Ringworm in cats can sometimes be harder to detect. Cats often develop mild and sometimes undetectable lesions. They may also experience hair loss in round patches or generalized hair loss, which can be more visible to pet owners.
Diagnosis of Ringworm in Dogs
Some, but not all cases of ringworm in pets demonstrate apparent fluorescence when placed under an ultraviolet lamp. Therefore, additional diagnostics may be necessary to determine whether ringworm fungi are present. In addition, the most accurate way to diagnose ringworm in dogs is by a culture of the fungus in a laboratory.
To complete this, hair and skin samples are taken from your pet. There are also several causes of hair loss in domestic pets. Your veterinarian might recommend additional testing to rule out other potential causes such as bacterial infections or skin mites before diagnosing ringworm.
Treatment of Ringworm
The most prevalent way to treat ringworm in cats and dogs is to utilize a combination of topical therapy, such as ointments or shampoos, and systemic therapy, like anti-fungal oral drugs. All environmental contamination must be removed for a successful treatment. Remember, do not stop treatment unless your vet has made this recommendation. Stopping treatment early on can result in the fungus returning.
Occasionally, topical therapy is utilized alone for ringworm treatment, but it’s commonly used along with other oral medications. Additionally, your veterinarian may recommend shaving the hair in minor areas or all of your pet’s hair.
In most ringworm cases, effective treatment will require an oral anti-fungal drug. The response of individual cats and dogs to treatment differs, and the disease may recur if therapy is stopped too soon. Typically, treatment lasts for at least six weeks; in some cases, much longer therapy is necessary.
Infected hairs contain several microscopic fungal spores that can be shed into the environment. Keeping the environment as free of spores as possible is vital to reducing the risk of reinfection.
HERE AT MOUNT CARMEL ANIMAL HOSPITAL, WE’LL TREAT YOUR PETS LIKE FAMILY!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!