Ringworms

You rush home from work to dress your 5-year-old son in his new Halloween costume. It's time for "trick or treating" and your little guy is anxious to go out and collect candy.

You happen to notice that he is scratching a circular red ring shape mark on his arm. You wonder if he got an insect bite and make a note of it. The next day the ring looks larger and more lesions are apparent. You go to your pediatrician and to your surprise, you find out that your little son has ringworms. "Worms?" you ask.  "My son? How is this possible? How did he get them?!" you exclaim with a mixture of panic and disgust. "Do you have any pets?" the doctor asks.  "Just a kitten we adopted two months ago," is the answer. "Well," he says, "cats can transmit ringworms. Take your kitten to the vet and have him checked out." He then hands you a prescription for topical medication and a little brochure about ringworms and kids.

After you get home and apply the first treatment on the lesions, you sit to read the brochure. You learn that ringworms are not really worms, but fungi that affect the skin of animals and people. They are more common in young pets and children. They can attack any skin area and create lesions that are usually circular, discolored and often itchy. Luckily, they respond well to treatment within four to six weeks.

Next, you are at the vet. Your kitten really doesn't show any major skin lesion apart from a little bald spot around the neck. After a complete physical exam, the vet turns off the lights and applies a special light with a lamp called "Wood's Lamp". Magically your kitten turns into a "glow in the dark cat", emitting a bright green reflection. Your vet takes a few samples for microscopic examination and a fungal culture to confirm the diagnosis of ringworms and sends you home with oral antifungal medication and instructions to clean the environment with bleach.

By Thanksgiving, everything looks much better and you are happy to celebrate the holiday knowing that you have overcome another obstacle as a caring and responsible parent and pet owner

There are several species of fungi (dermatophytes) that infect many animals as well as humans. Cats, especially kittens, represent a common source of the disease. They may develop skin lesions and hair loss of various degree, but also be asymptomatic and a "silent carrier". Any pet with hair loss or skin lesions should be promptly checked by the veterinarian and treated appropriately. Good hygiene practices, such as frequent hand washing and environmental cleaning help prevent the transmission of the disease. Pets diagnosed with the disease should be isolated pending resolution of the fungal infection.  

More from the CDC http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/ringworm.htm

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