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Ringworm: What's the Deal?

Summer time brings fairs, festivals and traveling. Increased activity means veterinarians must be on top of their game to help keep the public aware of potential issues arising from animal contact.

One common condition animals and humans can contract is ringworm. In fact, all animal species are susceptible to ringworm. Michael Wolf, DVM, of Country Doctors Veterinary Service in Menomonie, explains humans and animals can contract ringworm through direct contact or contact with shared brushes, halters, clippers, blankets, and other animal supplies.

Veterinarians are crucial to ensuring fair-goers are safe at the fair. “All animals appearing at fairs and shows must be inspected for ringworm before entering the premises, since it is easily transmitted to both humans and other animals attending the show,” Dr. Wolf states.

Not only is ringworm contagious, it is also a nuisance.

“Ringworm is a spore forming mold called a dermatophyte that sets up household on the skin of virtually any animal species. It can take many forms in people such as athlete’s foot, toe fungus or the typical circumscribed lesions,” describes Dr. Wolf.

He also explains ringworm is a misnomer because worms are not part of the condition. Ringworm appears as a defined circular ring in which skin may rise and be itchy or scaly. Hair loss can also occur within the circumscribed area.

The duration of ringworm will vary. “It is usually self-limiting and it can last from one to four weeks,” Dr. Wolf says. “The duration is reduced if it is recognized early and antifungal disinfectants and/or medications are applied.”

“Good nutrition with appropriate vitamins and minerals assure healthy skin to reduce susceptibility to ringworm infection and to aid in resolving the condition sooner,” he continues.

Dr. Wolf treats large animal ringworm using antiseptic or disinfectant cleansers as directed. He recommends disinfecting tools, accessories, head stalls and feeders to prevent reinfection.

“Antifungal over-the-counter products can be used if prescribed by a veterinarian in which appropriate considerations for food safety are addressed, although they are not very practical for herd-wide infections and treating a large number of head individually for several days,” he adds.

Dr. Wolf recommends the public should avoid contact with people and animals possibly infected as well as use proper hygiene. Ringworm can be an especially serious infection for those who are immunocompromised.

Large animal owners should thoroughly inspect new herd additions as well as isolate them for 7 to 10 days to prevent the spread of ringworm.

To discuss ringworm further or get more of your questions answered, contact your local WVMA veterinarian. Find one online at!


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