What is ringworm? Ringworm in cats (ringworm cat) is the most common fungal skin infection found in cats. The ringworm is caused by a microscopic group of fungal organisms called dermatophytes. The ringworm invades the dead outer skin layers, hair and claws.
There are three different types of dermatophytes: Microsporum gypseum (M.gypseum), Microsporum canis (M. Canis) and Trichophyton mentagrophytes.
Microsporum gypseum is usually from cats that dig into contaminated soil.
Trichophyton mentagrophytes is from cats that are exposed to rodents or the rodents burrows.
Microsporum canis accounts for about 74% to 98% of ringworm seen in cats. It is believed that up to 21% of cats are asymptomatic carriers. (cats which carry the ringworm fungus but show no signs of it) M. Canis is highly infectious. Ringworm can be spread from dog to cat, cat to cat, cat to dog, human to cat, cat to human, etc.
A cat will become infected by direct contact with an infected person, pet or animal as well as infected bedding, grooming equipment, carpet and furniture. The spores are attached to the cat hairs and can remain infective for over 12 months.
How do you know if your cat has ringworm?
The most common signs are circular patches of hair loss especially around the limbs and head area. The ringworm can occur to other parts of the cats body as well. Other indicators are grey patchy areas of baldness, seborrhea sicca (dandruff), flaky dry skin and onychomycosis. (an infection of the claw bed and claw)
The different ways to diagnose a cat with ringworm is by a Wood’s lamp (black light), microscopic examination, culture sample and a biopsy. When using the Wood’s lamp, the hair shafts will actual glow a fluorescent green if ringworm is present. Don’t forget that only about 50% of the ringworm strains will show when using this method. Microscopic examination is a rapid diagnosis but may not be accurate if the sample used had no spores. Your vet is looking at the cat hairs for microscopic fungal spores. Spores can be difficult to see and is best to have an experienced mycologist do the examination. Culture samples will result in the exact species of fungus. The time frame is about 10 days to perform the culture and results. If the lesions are uncharacteristic than a biopsy will usually be recommended.
If your cat has ringworm, it’s best to treat your cat and your environment as soon as possible. If you have more than one cat, than all the cats should be treated as well. By the way, with healthy cats, the ringworm will often resolve itself within two to four months. The recommended procedure is to quicken the process and prevent the infection to other humans and pets. Shampoos and dips are the most effective way to treat ringworm. In most cases, bathing the cat should be done every four to six days for about two to four weeks. When using lime sulfur dips, the cats hair coat will turn yellowish, however, this will fade in time.
Griseofulvin is the most commonly used antifungal drug for use in cats. Griseofulvin inhibits fungal cell division which allows the cats immune system to gain control and fight off the ringworm infection. Speak to your vet about griseofulvin before using this treatment as to the side effects and precautions involved. You can also ask your vet about other drugs like ketoconazole (Nizoral), Itraconazole and Terbinafine (Lamisil). You may also want to ask your vet about a ringworm vaccine called Fel-O-Vax MC-K made by Fort Dodge.
Source by Jack Evans