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Ringworm is a fungal disease that affects the skin, hair and claws. The disease is caused by dermatophytes-fungi. Ringworm in cats can be of two types: microsporia (Microsporum fungus) and trichophytosis (Trichophyton fungus) with the same clinical signs. Cats have microsporia more often. Fungus have a filamentous, unbranched body and form a large number of spores. They are resistant to heat and disinfectants, and stay long in the environment: on the litter, in the soil, on objects. All this contributes to their wide dissemination. Where the Ringworm in Cats Ears and other Parts of the Body Comes from?
In the street the carriers of fungus are rats, mice and other rodents. Spores that have fallen from an infected animal can remain viable for several years, and a warm and humid environment is conducive to their growth. Ringworm in cats’ paws is distributed in violation of hygienic rules. Its appearance is facilitated by superficial skin damage. Therefore, it is especially common among homeless animals. Of course, such animals are dangerous primarily for children.
Cats walking outside are also at risk. But animals which do not go outside at all could also get infected. Hosts can bring fungus spores along with grass (“green vitamins”) or simply on their own shoes. There is also a chance to get infected at the exhibition or on the road. Spores can be not only on the sick animal but on any objects that have been in contact with it-on litter, furniture, combs, fallen wool, etc. Thus, the infection can spread both through direct contact with the infected animal, and through its litter, toys, dishes and other things that are contaminated with skin scales and hairs containing threads and spores of the fungus. You should remember that fungus can remain viable for several years and re-provoke the disease(!). Most often ringworm in cats’ tail affects kittens under the age of 1 year. The spread of diseases contribute to the crowded animal welfare, exhibition activities, as well as violation of hygiene rules.
The Way it Appears?
The incubation period of the disease depends on the pathogen and immunity of the animal and usually lasts from a week to a month. Fungus, getting to the surface of the skin, releases toxic substances that cause inflammation and loosening of the surface layer of the skin. Then the pathogen penetrates into the hair follicles, the neck of the hair and, destroying their structure, leads to hair loss. In this case, numerous scales and dried purulent crusts are formed on the skin. In addition, the pathogen can penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin, causing severe inflammation in the skin and subcutaneous tissue.
Symptoms of Ringworm
Skin is usually infected. Ringworm manifests itself differently depending on the location and duration of the disease. A classic symptom considered to be a small hairless spots of rounded shape with clearly delineated boundaries. In their center, the skin is usually covered with scales, there may be small ulcers. Most often affected areas are located on the head, ears, legs and tail.
The course of the disease can take place in various forms: superficial, atypical and deep. In case of superficial course of the disease it can not always be recognized by external examination, especially in long-haired cats. The atypical form is manifested by the formation of individual hairless areas of the skin. Inflammation in this case is absent. The areas often have the form of abrasions or scuffs, which makes it difficult to diagnose. The most dangerous, but also the most easily diagnosed is the deep form. It most often occur in kittens and cats with weakened immunity.
Symptoms of ringworm are very diverse, some of them are characteristic also of other skin diseases. Therefore, an accurate diagnosis is made with the help of LD diagnosis (fluorescent diagnosis using Wood’s lamps) and laboratory tests. Wood’s lamp is a light source of ultraviolet range, which gives almost no visible light. Fungal lesions under its rays look like a shimmering mosaic of emerald green color. However, the accuracy of fluorescent diagnostics is only 60-70%. For more accurate results it is required to carry out laboratory examination of scrapings from the skin and samples of wool of the animal. The cultivation of fungus (cultivation on environments) is a reliable method of diagnosis of dermatophyte.
Photo of Cats with Ringworm
With proper diagnosis and timely treatment the prognosis is generally favorable, the animal recovers. In any case, timely treatment in the veterinary clinic will avoid deterioration of the pet’s condition and the transition of the disease to a more severe form. The full course of treatment is prescribed by a veterinarian. During this period the cat should be isolated, and the apartment is regularly wet cleaning and vacuuming, disinfecting surfaces with products containing sodium hypochlorite as the spores are persistent in the environment. Treatment of ringworm is a complex one and includes:
- the appointment of specific antifungal drugs;
- local treatment of the affected areas of the skin with antiseptics;
- vitamin therapy and diet selection for the restoration and growth of the wool cover.
- in generalized (extensive) forms, tablets containing an antifungal antibiotic are prescribed, as well as therapeutic shampoos, which also include antifungal drugs.
Special care should be taken in cases when the cat visits the exhibitions, goes outside and contacts with other animals. Prevention means compliance with the rules of cats management, good hygiene, regular inspection by a qualified vet, and, most importantly, avoiding contact with sick animals.