[BLOG] Shelter medicine: 27 things shelter staff should know about ringworm (Part II)

Remember our previous post on ringworm (if not, just click here)! As promised here is the end of the list of important points shelter staff needs to know on such a problematic disease.

Fact 12: Environmental factors such as increased warmth and high humidity can favor development of the disease. These factors must therefore be controlled in a shelter setting (humidity< 65%, temperature around 20-22ºC).

Fact 13: Excessive bathing of the animals may predispose them to infection, by removing normal host defenses mechanisms (like sebum) and increasing hydration and maceration of the skin.

Fact 14: In cats, normal grooming behavior may mechanically remove spores. However, cats which are not grooming themselves or long-haired cats are at higher risk.

Fact 15: In a healthy animal, ringworm is usually a self-curing disease, after development of an appropriate immune response. This might however take from 60 to 100 days post infection.

Fact 16: Once an individual recovers, partial immunity to reinfection is present. However, this resistance is relative: a second infection requires a larger amount of spores, but is usually possible. This subsequent infection will however be cleared sooner.

Fact 17: The Wood’s lamp is a useful tool to detect infected animals. Infected hair will appear bright apple green under its light. Definitive diagnosis is however obtained by culture. A new DNA assay is now on the market and might help obtaining definitive diagnosis faster.

Fact 18: The ideal treatment regimen is composed of 3 elements: directly treat the lesions (bathing/dipping/shampooing=topical), oral treatment (=systemic) and environmental treatment

Fact 19: In order to remove contaminated hairs that will otherwise release spores in the environment, clipping the entire haircoat is recommended and will always be, when feasible, the optimal measure to take. Sure, it can irritate the skin and eventually exacerbate some lesions. But these potential complications should not be used as a reason to not clip the hair coat, since it will increase the length of the treatment.

Fact 20: Medical treatment will accelerate resolution of the lesions, minimize the course of infection and decrease the risk of spreading the disease to another animals… or humans

Fact 21: Medical treatment of ringworm can however take weeks to months.

Fact 22: Infected animals should be examined every 2-4 weeks, and fungal cultures should be performed weekly. Expensive? Sure, but the cost is offset by the savings in antifungal treatment.

Fact 23: Treatment should be stopped when at least 2-3 negative consecutive weekly cultures are obtained.

Fact 24: Environmental treatment requires appropriate cleaning and disinfection (see video below for a fresh reminder!). Since spores are highly resistant, specific products are required.

Fact 25: Best way to remove contaminated material? Since it mainly consists in hairs, Swiffer mops are great!

Fact 26: Many disinfectants are labeled to be active against ringworm. However, these tests are usually not made on the spores, the resistant forms in the environment.

Read our full blog here

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