Though the name suggest otherwise, this disease is not caused by a worm - it is a fungal infection of the skin. The disease affects all mammals including humans! It is more common however in long haired cats, kittens that have been stressed or live in large colonies, immature dogs and animals with poor immunity.
The disease presents itself in many different forms with lesions appearing mainly in areas around the ears, face and legs. The classic lesions are circular areas of hair loss which usually heal at the centre and are surrounded by an inflamed and reddened ring. The disease can also present with scaling, crusting and generalised hair loss. It is also possible for an animal to carry ringworm (fungal) spores without showing any signs.
Ringworm is spread through direct contact with infected animals or indirectly through contaminated bedding and dishes. Crowded environments with warm and humid conditions favour the spread of the infection.
If you suspect that your pet has ringworm, it is important that you visit your vet to confirm the diagnosis because the disease can potentially affect you and other animals in your household. It is a good idea to quarantine your pet until it is seen by the vet.
Treatment for ringworm depends on the severity of infection. Your Veterinarian can prescribe an antifungal shampoo or ointment. If necessary this treatment can be combined with oral medication. Animals in the same household may need to be shampooed as well even if they are not showing any signs. As a precaution to prevent you or your family from ringworm infection, you should put on gloves when applying medications and was your hands thoroughly after handling affected animals.
Ringworm (fungus) is a very hardy organism which persists for a very long time in the environment. You can decontaminate your home with a 1:10 dilution of household bleach. You also need to disinfect bedding and grooming equipments and discard all other items that cannot be disinfected like carpeted cat trees. Vacuum cleaning your home is also a good idea as this removes all the infected hairs that may harbour the fungal spores.