Caring and treating kittens with ringworm
Ringworm (Dermatophytosis) is actually a fungal skin infection and not 'worms' as the name suggests. It's very important to know that ringworm is a zoonotic disease (a disease that can be transmitted from animals to people and visa versa), so careful handling is vital in preventing the spread to other people and animals.
Ringworm can present itself in a variety of ways, however the most common is a circular or irregular patch of hair loss, which can become red and crusted, affecting predominantly kitten’s faces and extremities. It's spread via microscopic spores from an infected animal/person, as well as infected objects, clothing and bedding. Spores can travel via dust particles, air currents and even fleas, and last in the environment for up to 18 months. If an animal/person becomes infected, symptoms will only start to appear in 1-3 weeks.
An easy way to diagnose Ringworm is to use a Wood’s Lamp to see if the suspicious area will fluoresce, however only about 50% of cases with ringworm will fluoresce. Fungal culture can also be performed, however it can take up to 4 weeks for results, so treatment is usually begun without a definitive diagnosis, as it is the safest option due to how contagious Ringworm is.
Treatment for Ringworm includes:
Antifungal wash such as Malaseb twice a week (Malaseb must stay on for 10 minutes before washing off for it to be effective).
Oral Medication (dispensed by your Veterinarian).
Environmental Cleaning (limiting the kitten to an area easy to clean, away from other pets and people to prevent further spread).
The infected kittens will usually remain contagious for about 3 weeks if aggressive treatment is used (longer if minimal treatment is performed).
Ringworm in young kittens is not a death sentence and can be easily treated with a good prognosis. Unfortunately, it's all too common for these kittens to be euthanised due to the level of isolation and lack of carers willing to foster them. So please, open your homes for these kittens in need and give them the chance they deserve!