Ringworm can affect any animal with an epidermal layer: cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, and even small rodents can contract and transmit ringworm. For this reason, it is very important that any skin condition you notice in your pet be dealt with quickly. Left untreated, the ringworm infection will spread.
Generally speaking, ringworm in animals is contracted by contact with contaminated soils, contact with other infected animals, or contact with actively infected humans. Additionally, because animals tend to spend time outside close to the ground where ringworm spores live, the probability of an infection, where the animal is the first of many to be infected, is high. It is also important to note that it is not uncommon for animals to show no signs of ringworm yet still have the ability to transmit the infection to others.
In cats, ringworm shows as skin lesions with the possibility of flakey bald patches having red centers. In dogs, the visual clue for ringworm is the appearance of a spreading circle of hair loss with a red center. In dogs; however, ringworm is often confused with mange or black fly bites. In any animal, it is not uncommon that ringworm goes misdiagnosed.
Typically, mature animals have a high immunity to the ringworm infection, while young animals are more susceptible because their immune defense systems have not yet completely developed.
Ringworm is not believed to be the cause of primary discomfort to animals. But because the infection causes licking and scratching, secondary bacterial infections where scaling and scabbing are common occurrences.
To keep the infection from spreading from an animal to a human, frequent hand washing should be kept up whenever a human handles an animal whether or not that animal shows signs of an active ringworm infection.
Because ringworm in animals mimics other diseases easily, it is important that you contact a veterinarian quickly if you suspect an animal in your family has been infected. To contain the infection, and ensure that no other members of the family are infected, early diagnoses and treatment required.
Additionally, it is important to remember that ringworm spores are survivors and can live up to a year in carpet, bedding, or other items that an animal comes in contact with. Therefore it is vitally important that if an animal has been infected with ringworm their old bedding is discarded and any shared family living environment be deep cleaned and disinfected.
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