Over the last month WellPet Vets has seen an increase in cases of Ringworm and we find the condition is often misunderstood and met with fear and confusion. Truth be known, ringworm is not that scary at all, just a nuisance. Despite its name, ringworm is NOT a worm, it’s not even caused by a worm! Ringworm is a fungal infection of the top layers of the skin and hair. Ringworm is found in a variety of species and the most common species found in pets is called Microsporum canis.

How do we get Ringworm?
Ringworm is most commonly caught from the environment. It can be caught from a variety of sources ranging from the soil, as well as other people and also from your pets. It is one of the very few infections that can be transferred from animals to humans. As the fungi can live on stray hair follicles and skin cells even if they are not on the host, it is quite easily transmitted. One species of ringworm (Microsporum gypseum) is a soil organism and can be picked up spending time in the garden.

Young children, animals and people that have their immunity compromised are most likely to contract this disease.

How is Ringworm Diagnosed?
• Observation – Ringworm has a distinct circular pattern to its appearance. It is also common for the hair to fall out in this area and for the skin to have a scaly appearance.
• Woods Lamp – or blue light will cause some species of ringworm to fluoresce.
• Fungal Cultures – Your vet or doctor to confirm a diagnosis may send hair follicles to a lab for testing, this testing involves the growing of the fungus and can sometimes take up to 2 weeks for a conclusive answer but will generally give preliminary results within a few days.
• Microscopic examination – Your vet or doctor may also look at hair follicles under the microscope in order to identify fungal spores on the hair shaft.

How is ringworm treated and what should you do if you have ringworm? If you know your pet or another person has ringworm, avoid the following:
• Skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or animal – using gloves when handling or applying treatment is always recommended.
• Sharing of towels, clothing or sports gear
• Contact with infected household items, such as a brush, pet clothing, towels and furniture.
• Treatment may include topical treatments, such as shampoos and ointments and/ or oral medication.

Treating the environment with an antifungal product, is a must, and is fundamental in getting things under control. You should always vacuum thoroughly and ensure any pet hair is cleaned and removed from the environment regularly. Bedding and brushes for example.

Ringworm does not grow in inflamed tissues, so massaging the ointments or shampoos into the lesions (rather than just dabbing them on) discourages the fungi to grow.

It is always important that you use stringent hygiene techniques when dealing with Ringworm, use gloves when treating or handling, and always wash your hands after handling your pet.

Where would you see ringworm lesions on your pet?
In pocket pets such as Guinea Pigs for example you will most likely see it on their face and feet. In Kittens and puppies you may notice the lesion anywhere as they can be generalised, though we find often it is predominately the nose/ head as these are the areas that kittens in particular last learn to groom properly.

If you spot an itchy red, bald, dry, round spot on your family member of your pet, investigate it with your Veterinarian and health care professional sooner, rather than later. For more information, you can contact WellPet Vets on 1300WELLPET.

This article is this weeks Vet Report in Nepean News: https://issuu.com/nepeannews/docs/nepeannews_25august2016/22

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