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Ringworm in Cats

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Dermatophytosis in Cats

 

Dermatophytosis is the medical term for a parasitic fungal infection affecting the skin, hair, and/or nails (claws). The most commonly isolated fungal organisms are Microsporum canis (more commonly referred to as ringworm), Trichophyton mentagrophytes, and Microsporum gypseum. This disease occurs in dogs, cats, and other mammals. In cats, these infections are more common in long-haired breeds than short-haired breeds. It is also diagnosed more commonly in young animals than in old.

 

The condition or disease described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects dogs please visit this page in the PetMD pet health library.

 

Symptoms and Types

 

Symptoms of dermatophytosis include accumulations of surface skin cells, such as seen in dandruff (scales); poor hair coat; reddened skin (erythema); darkened skin (hyperpigmentation); itchiness (pruritus); and hair loss (alopecia), which may be patchy or circular. The classic sign of circular hair loss is most commonly seen in cats. Other indications of dermatophytosis that are readily apparent on the skin are raised, rounded, knotty (nodular) lesions known as granulomatous lesions, or boils, and raised nodular lesions that frequently ooze (kerions), the result of ringworm infection. There may also be inflammation of the claw folds -- the folds of skin bordering the nail, and medically referred to as paronychia.

 

Occasionally, cats are classified as inapparent carriers -- harboring the disease-causing fungus, but presenting no visible signs of the condition. However, even these cats are contagious to humans or other animals.

 

Causes

 

The fungal parasite Microsporum canis (or ringworm) is by far the most common cause of dermatophytosis in cats. The incidence of each fungus varies according to your geographical location.

 

Diseases or medications that decrease the body's ability to develop a normal immune response (known as immunocompromising diseases, or immunosuppressive medications, respectively) can increase the likelihood that your cat will be susceptible to a fungal infection of the skin, hair, and/or nails, as well as increase the potential for a more severe infection. Environments that are densely populated with animals (for example, in a cattery or animal shelter), or where there is poor nutrition, poor management practices, and lack of adequate quarantine period, will also increase risk of infection.

 

 

Diagnosis

 

Your veterinarian will perform a fungal culture of skin clippings, a microscopic examination of a sample of hair, and possibly a skin biopsy.

 

 

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