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Ringworm Disease In Cats

Ringworm is a fungal infection that can affect a cat’s hair, skin and nails. It will clear up on its own over time, but a cat can spread the disease to other animals and people while infected.

The disease is usually caused by Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum or Trichophyton fungi found in infected animals or in the animal’s living environment. Spores can live up to 24 months and favor moist, warm areas. A cat can have the disease without showing any symptoms.

The disease can be spread by direct contact or contaminated grooming tools. A healthy cat’s immune system creates resistance to disease. An immunosuppressed, high steroid use, older, free-roaming, malnourished, ill or stressed cat has a higher risk of developing ringworm.

Skin lesions are the most common symptom. Lesions that are usually devoid of hair are usually found on the head, ears and tail. It can also affect the nails causing deformity. Sometimes the whole body can become infected resulting in a scaly or oily skin.

A specialized black light, Wood’s lamp, can diagnose certain types of fungi. Another diagnostic method is to remove the hair around the lesion and examine it under a microscope. The most accurate way is to collect scales and crusts from the skin and perform a fungal culture.

Ringworm can be treated with topical creams such as miconazole or thiabendazole. In severe cases, a local treatment with lime sulfur dips and in combination with drugs such as itraconazole, terbafin or greceofluvin. The dips have a foul smell and can temporarily yellow the fur but are very effective. Always consult a veterinarian to determine the best treatment.

Keeping a cat away from an infected animal and maintaining a clean environment are good ways to prevent disease. If spores are found, the area should be thoroughly cleaned, including the heating and cooling ducts. A bleach solution diluted 10 to 1 and left for 10 minutes will kill the spores. Since humans can become infected, the use of gloves when handling infected animals and cleaning is recommended.

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