Many of you may be familiar with the dreaded Ringworm, and if you’ve experienced the condition you will understand how painful and irritating it can be.
So, what is Ringworm?
It is a skin infection caused by Fungus, the technical names for the two most common species affecting horses are Microsporum and Trichophyton. The condition is highly contagious and can affect other animals and humans. The fungus causes skin lesions to appear that look like scabs with dry crumbly looking skin in a ring like pattern. They can be very itchy and can start as one visible lesion, however it can spread very quickly over the affected area of the horse. From the time of infection, it can take up to 3 weeks for the first lesion to appear, and unfortunately during that time being unaware your horse has been exposed you may have already spread the condition onto other horses. The fungi are quite resistant and can live on surfaces such as wood fencing or timber in stables for long periods of time, thus spreading the disease. Generally, it is younger horses that are most affected, once a horse has had ringworm it will develop an immunity which can be long lasting.
How is Ringworm transmitted?
- By direct contact with an infected horse, such as rubbing or itchy in a herd paddock environment
- Grooming, using brushes etc. that have been contaminated by a horse that already has ringworm
- Sharing Tack from an infected horse, which is the most common form of transmission
- Infested Stables
- Infested Floats
Prevention and Control
- Separate all the affected horses tack and do not use for any other horse.
- Disinfect and clean tack regularly with an effective disinfectant like Virkon S.
- Use separate grooming gear.
- Separate the horse form any paddock mates until symptoms have gone.
- Wash in an antifungal solution which your vet can advise which products are best to use.
- Use a gentle anti-fungal ointment such as Ranvet’s Fungazol to sooth and treat lesions.
Unfortunately, the lesions caused by ringworm can take a considerable time to clear up but remember once your horse has had ringworm the chances of it getting them again are very slim. The most important thing is to separate and clean everything that may have been in contact with an infected horse. Ringworm is very easily spread and highly contagious, and it can also be transferred to humans and will appear as small red ring like lesion on the skin, if this happens seek medical advice.