Contrary to popular belief, feline ringworm is not caused by a worm at
all but is a fungal skin disease
caused by tinea corporis (a
microscopic group of parasitic fungal organisms known as dermatophytes).
It is highly contagious between cats and is often found in overcrowded
conditions or catteries where cats intermingle, or where domestic cats
come into contact with ferals who may carry or be suffering the
condition and not been treated. This infection is highly contagious
between cats, dogs and humans and when you notice ringworm, cats should
be isolated from each other until it has been controlled. Strict hygiene
should be observed and gloves should be worn when handling him until he
is completely free of the condition.
The signs and symptoms include a skin infection which looks
scaly, raw and flaky. It is very itchy and the cat is constantly
scratching. The incubation period is about 10-14 days so your cat may
have ringworm but not display the signs and symptoms until the fungus
has got a good hold.
Please stay tuned for the next installment.....
The fungus inhabits the hair shaft and feeds on the scales and debris at the base of the hairs . Eventually the hair shaft breaks at the base next to the skin and small round areas of bald patches start to appear, and which spread as the ringworm spreads.
Diagnosis is confirmed by the presence of circular patches of hair loss, microscopic examination of the hair shaft, and sometimes an ultraviolet light can be used to determine the presence of the fungus which shows up green under the light. Sending samples of the hair for culture (i.e. to see what organisms grow in an appropriate food medium) will also confirm the diagnosis.
There is a ringworm vaccination that can be given in order to
protect the cat from future reoccurrence, as well as protecting any
other cats in his vicinity. Some vets also advocate shaving the fur to
remove the habitat of the fungus during treatment but in general it is
thought that cutting back the hair on long-haired breeds is sufficient
as Griseofulvin is so effective.