Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's Not a Worm

Hey, I had to do something in honor of Cinco De Mayo..or  Sinko de drinko :) 

I'm talking about "ringworm" which is actually a fungal disease that veterinarians refer to as dermatophytosis. 

This is one of those things that clients often ask about. 
They mistakenly think it is a parasite because of the name.  
There are a variety of organisms that cause this. Some live in the soil while others live on humans. A few species cause disease in our pets and those can be transmitted to people.

In pets, we often seen areas of hair loss and scaly patches of skin. Cats are a bit different (they always are trust me!) and have more varied appearances than JUST what the dog shows us. It is more common in kittens, whose immune systems are still developing. Immunity has been shown to be involved in who gets it and who doesn't. It is important that any cat with ringworm be tested for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Viruses. Making things even more challenging is that sometimes cats can CARRY it without showing ANY lesions. 

This cat has some classic lesions of irregularly circular hair loss on the head

I have only acquired it from a cat once despite handling definite ringworm cases numerous times. It only caused a mild rash that went away with some topical treatment. 

In our pets, it is generally treated with topical sprays/baths and sometimes oral anti-fungals. In my experience, I do not recommend oral medications in kittens. They seem to have trouble metabolizing the drugs - not surprising considering cats have some disadvantages when it comes to their liver's ability to deal with some metabolic processes.  I feel a bit better about giving them to adult cats but still try to avoid them.

I found a few pictures that show how ringworm lesions in humans appear:  Ringworm slideshow Of course many of these lesions are NOT caused by the pet forms. I know I never had lesions like that, nor did any of the technicians I know who had gotten it from cats. For us, they were little tiny red raised itchy bumps.  Of course, if you suspect this, you need to see YOUR doctor, not me. If you see lesions on your cat then call me! 

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