It is not a worm, it is a skin fungus that spreads easily. Many cats in the show world have it. It is spread very quickly & effortlessly. Once you have it in your household not only do you have to treat your cats and check yourself for it (yes, humans get it too) but you must sanitize the environment that you and the cats live in. Ringworm spores are connected to the hair follicles and skin dander. They fall off the animal and drop or float where ever they land! Ringworm spores can lie dormant for up to a year before finding a new host! Therefore, it can run into a cycle. You may clear it up and think your rid of it and a few months later get re-infected. So ringworm is disastrous and extremely difficult to get rid of. If a breeder says they don't have it and yet they treat all their cats for it, run! They have it. There are 2 ways to treat your cat once it has been diagnosed. 1st and most effective is by weekly sulfur dips which smell like rotten eggs and it stains everything yellow including the cats fur. The 2nd is by an oral medication that can result in negative side effects on the animals health.
What Catteries Should Do If They Have Ringworm But Often Don’t
They should close the cattery to everyone, especially children. Under no circumstances should they show or sell any of their animals. They should not add any new animals to their program. They need to stop all breeding programs until they have taken the proper steps treating their cats and have had two negative Fungal Cultures afterwards. Treatment can easily take up to a year and it is more work then a full time job. This means their catteries will have no income until then. Yet the cost of the cattery continues. Take into consideration the Veterinary visits and the medication costs, they all adds up. It can cost between $300.00 to $1,000.00 a cat to cure due to the cycle of getting rid of it and then it coming back! Ringworm can easily run a cattery out of business. My heart goes out to catteries who are taking the proper steps to fight it if they have it. Most catteries who get ringworm don’t. Catteries who have ringworm will often hold it at bay through medicated shampoos & different types of anti fungal sprays. This type of treatment will keep the ringworm in a state of hibernation. Therefore, the cat exhibits no signs of ringworm and the breeder can continue to sell infected cats and show them in the show ring. It takes between 30 to 60 days for the ringworm to show itself once this type of treatment has stopped. By this time the new owner is left wondering how their animal got it. This situation is more common then not.
What Is It?
"Ringworm" is the common name for the skin infection caused by a special group of fungi; it is not caused by a worm at all. The fungi feed upon the dead cells of skin and hair causing, in people, a classic round, red lesion with a ring of scale around the edges and normal recovering skin in the center. Because the ring of irritated, itchy skin looked like a worm, the infection was erroneously named. The fungi responsible are called "dermatophytes," meaning "plants that live on the skin" thus the more correct term for ringworm is "dermatophytosis." The characteristic "ring" appearance is primarily a human phenomenon. In animals, ringworm frequently looks like a dry, gray, scaly patch but can also mimic any other skin lesion and have any appearance.
How Can My Cat Get It ?
The spores of dermatophyte fungi are extremely hardy in the environment; they can live for years. All it takes is skin contact with a spore to cause infection. Infected animals are continuously dropping spore-covered hairs as infected hairs break off into the environment. In your couch, on your carpet, etc. Ringworm is easily spread and you must be knowledgeable about it to avoid it. There are many places you may come in contact with it. A farm, petting zoos, animal shelters, cat shows, etc. Sadly Cat Shows are renowned to have it within the environment. Imagine the amount of grooming being done and all the hairs flying! Cats in the Show Ring are in constant danger of catching and or spreading Ringworm. Some cats are carriers, who never show signs of skin irritation themselves but can infect others readily. There are several species of dermatophyte fungi. Different species of fungi come from different kinds of animals or even from soil thus determining the ringworm species can help determine the source of the fungal infection.
Can I Get Ringworm?
Yes, ringworm is contagious to people; however, some people are at greater risk than others. The fungus takes advantage of skin belonging to those with reduced immune capacity. This puts young animals and children, elderly people and pets, those who are HIV+, people on chemotherapy or taking medication and highly stressed people at a higher risk.
How Does The Vet Confirm My Cat Has Ringworm?
By taking a Fungal Culture, this is done by placing hairs and skin scales on a special culture medium in an attempt to grow one of the ringworm fungi. The advantage of this test is that it not only can confirm ringworm but can tell exactly which species of fungus is present. Knowing the identity of the fungus may help determine the source of infection. The disadvantage, however, is that fungi require 10 days to grow out.
These Are The Proper Steps To Stop Ringworm
Once detection has been made commitment is the key to successful treatment, especially if you have more than one pet. Treatment is normally between 3 months to 1 year depending on the amount of pets and the owners commitment in their treatment. Infected animals are constantly shedding spores into the environment (your house) thus environmental disinfection is just as important as the treatment of the affected pet.
Environmental Treatment & What it Takes
In order to treat the environment you must disinfect to lower the spore population. Since the environment is more than likely heavily contaminated, especially in multiple pet households, cleaning needs to be done on a daily basis. Anything that can be bleached needs to be bleached, table surfaces, floors, etc. Wash all bedding, things that can’t be bleached use HG Laundry additive & Disinfectant. Disinfect the animals carriers & grooming tools. Toys that can’t be disinfected throw away. Disinfect the rooms themselves, including heating and air ducts, windows, walls, and ceilings. If you can’t see it, spray it using an anti-fungicide spray. Avoid using fans to circulate the air. You're blowing around the spores and spreading them to new areas. Vigorous vacuuming and steam cleaning of carpets will help remove spores and, of course, vacuum bags should be discarded after each use. Spores can also get into filters & vents in your home, so it is important to change them weekly during treatment. Homes that have multiple pets and their pets can’t be isolated are the hardest to treat. A fogger is very helpful and can be purchased. In this type of situation the home should be fogged weekly. Old sheets or blankets can be draped over any areas your pet likes to be for protection from spores. To reduce environmental contamination, infected cats should be confined to one room until they have cultured negative. The rest of the house can be disinfected during this confinement period. Cultures are done monthly during the course of treatment.
Treat Your Pet
With clippers or trimmers, clip the hair around the lesion. This is were the spores are hiding. After you clip, shampoo your pet with a Medicated shampoo such as Malaseb. You have to scrub those spores away. This must be done 2 to 3 times a week After you shampoo, then dip! Lime Sulfur Dip all of your cats, not just the ones showing lesions. Lime Sulfur Dip is a must to eradicate Ringworm. You must Lime dip at least once every 7 days. Best results are once every 5 days. You must continue Lime treatment for 2 to 4 weeks after negative culture results. Apply a topical anti fungal cream to the ringworm lesions once to twice a daily, rubbing it well into the skin. This medication should be chosen by your Veterinarian. All other products can be found and purchased at Revival Animal Health. ( revivalanimal.com )
You need to scrub those spores away! This is an important step, not only before dipping but also during the week. This helps to eliminate the spores that are on the surface, which means they cannot spread the infection. Shampooing should be done 2 to 3 times per week. These shampoos can be purchased through your Veterinarian or Revival Animal Health.
Lime Sulfur Dip
Lime Sulfur Dips are recommended twice a week and can be performed either by the Veterinary Hospital or at home. If you attempt this kind of dipping at home, you should expect:
• Lime Sulfur will stain clothing and jewelry
• Lime Sulfur will cause temporary yellowing of white fur
• Lime Sulfur smells strongly of rotten eggs.
The dip is mixed according the label and is not rinsed off at the end of the bath.
Do not Shampoo after Lime Dipping. The pet should be towel dried after dipping. An Elizabethan collar can be put on the pet until it is dry. This is so that the pet won’t lick and ingest the lime dip while it cleans & dries itself. Or the pet can be carefully dried with a hair dryer. If you use a dryer, do it in a small area that can be disinfected so that the spores won’t fly everywhere and contaminate everything.
Oral Medication For Infected Pets
There are primarily two medications being used to treat ringworm: Griseofulvin and Itraconazole (brand name "Sporonox"). Veterinary dermatologists disagree as to which is better. Both medications are relatively expensive and must be given with food. These medications have a significant potential to cause birth defects in pregnant pets. Treatment with either medication typically is continued for 1-2 months and should not be discontinued until the pet cultures negative. Stopping when the pet simply looks well visually frequently leads to recurrence of the disease.
GRISEOFULVIN (brand name Fulvicin)
This medication must be given with a fatty meal in order for an effective dose to be absorbed by the pet. Persian cats and young kittens are felt to be sensitive to its side effects which usually are limited to nausea but can include liver disease and serious white blood cell changes. Cats infected with the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus commonly develop life-threatening blood cell changes and should never be exposed to this medication. Despite the side effects, which can be severe for some individuals, Griseofulvin is still the traditional medication for the treatment of ringworm and is usually somewhat less expensive than Itraconazole.
This medication is highly effective in the treatment of ringworm and is safer then Griseofulvin but is only available in capsules far too large to be useful for small animals. This means that a special company a (Veterinary Compound Pharmacy) must reformulated the medication into a more useful size. Nausea is a potential side effect for this medication. Often the main reason Itraconazole is passed by in favor of griseofulvin is expense. Itraconazole is also effective in treating many life- threatening fungal infections whereas Griseofulvin only treats ringworm. By increasing the amount of Itraconazole in the environment, we may be creating resistance in more dangerous fungi which could become a problem over the years. On the average, cats treated with Itraconazole and nothing else were able to achieve cure two weeks sooner than cats treated with Griseofulvin. Both the above medications work by inhibiting fungal reproduction rather than by directly killing the fungus.