‘Ringworm’ is a fungal skin infection (called Dermatophytosis) that can affect many species, including cats, dogs and even humans.
Although Ringworm can become an issue when left untreated or if complicated by secondary infections, it is very treatable and normally will not impact the long-term health and wellbeing of your pet (or you).
Very importantly, it has nothing to do with worms!
In the UAE, Ringworm presents most frequently within the feline population because the free roaming nature of cats means that the opportunity for the infection to spread is greater, especially among the very young (less than 12 months), long-haired or immune compromised population.
Being a fungus, dermatophytes create spores that are released into the environment. These spores can remain active on surfaces for over a year and, if these spores find their way onto the skin of a potential host, then an infection can occur. However, the quantity of spores, the health and immune response capability of the host and the environmental conditions all need to align favourably (for the spores) to lead to an infection occurring.
As such, our pets may frequently be exposed to these dermatophyte spores but will remain uninfected due to:
However, as dermatophytes prefer warm, humid conditions and thrive in large, closely grouped populations (i.e. the UAE’s street cats), Ringworm remains fairly common in the UAE.
Ringworm can present in several ways but is often characterised by patches of irritated, scabby or scaly skin which is often accompanied by localised hair loss around the infected areas.
The name ‘Ringworm’ is probably derived as areas of infection can often be circular in appearance and, more noticeable on humans (due to our lack of fur), appear as an area of inflamed skin creating a ring around the infected area.
An infection can take two to three weeks to become obvious (or longer if infected areas are very small) and is tested for using ultraviolet lighting or via skin samples.
Treatment normally requires a multimodal approach using topical and systemic medication as well as environmental decontamination (because of those pesky spores) and can take a few weeks to resolve.
In multi-pet households it is always advisable to isolate any infected pets to try and reduce the chances of several infections occurring.
While this may sound challenging, the reality is that it is a commonly seen condition and your pet care provider will be able to advise you and support your pets as needed. If in doubt, please ask your vet!
Dr. Katrin is the founder of the German Veterinary Clinic. Her passion and commitment to delivering the highest standards of animal care as well as her extensive knowledge and experience has enabled the clinic to expand and flourish.
Dr Katrin is currently a resident in Veterinary Behaviour Medicine of both the European as well as American College of Animal Welfare and Behaviour Medicine and is the first (and only) veterinarian in the Middle East to specialize in this field. This means that GVC is the only clinic that can treat the mental, emotional and physical health of all our pet-patients.