Text Reference: "Ringworm (Dermatophytosis)." The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health.
Although the name often misleads pet owners into thinking a worm has invaded their pet’s bodies, ringworm is actually a fungus that can affect the hair, skin and nails. Common in cats, this fungus can lead to circular patterns of hair loss and red, scabby bumps. Before you introduce another pet into your home, knowing the facts about ringworm and how to prevent the skin condition from spreading is crucial.
Dermatophytes, fungi that feeds on protein in the skin, hair and claws, is the agent of ringworm. Infections are transmitted by contact with infected hairs from another infected pet in the environment, or through bedding, grooming tools, and even fleas. The fungus can be passed between animals and humans, but young and elderly people are more susceptible to developing the infection. Those with weak immune systems are also more prone to ringworm.
How Do I Know If My Pet Or I Have Ringworm?
If I Have Ringworm, Should I Test My Pets?
Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin. Contrary to its name, worms are not involved in ringworm infections. In pets, ringworm primarily is a nuisance. However, the infection can spread from pets to people. This makes ringworm infections in household pets a serious concern.Some types of ringworm are contagious to people. The infection can be spread among pets in the house, and very hard to eliminate. However, serious illness in pets is rare.Several different species or types of ringworm exist. Some are spread in a contagious fashion, by direct contact with infected individuals or by contact with bedding, brushes, furniture, or household objects. Wild rodents may introduce ringworm into households. Ringworm also occurs naturally in soil, so contact with an infected individual is not needed for a pet (or person) to contract ringworm. In some instances, people with ringworm may spread the infection to their pets.Ringworm can spread from pets to people. Therefore, if your pet has ringworm and any family members develop skin problems, they should seek medical attention immediately.The most effective way to diagnose ringworm is to use a special type of culture medium to grow the fungus from hair of pets. Because the fungus grows slowly, culturing ringworm can take up to ten days. Basic skin tests, including examination of hair under ultraviolet light or under a microscope, will detect some (but not all) cases of ringworm.There you have it. If you want to remove ringworm from your house, you must destroy your carpet, burn your vacuum cleaner bags, and wipe down your books, furniture, and bric-a-brac with bleach, among many, many other things.