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SPCA: Ringworm outbreak increases need for foster homes

by jmaloni
Thu, May 31st 2012 08:45 am

The Niagara County SPCA has announced the animals are experiencing a small outbreak of ringworm and is in immediate need of foster homes willing to treat animals with ringworm.

The shelter has seen four cases of ringworm and, because of lack of medication and foster homes, was unable to treat three of the four animals. One dog was placed with a local rescue. The shelter has a small pool of foster homes that are already full and will not be able to treat these animals if placement outside of the shelter cannot be found for them.

Ringworm, "dermatophytosis," is a fungal infection affecting the skin, hair and occasionally nails of animals (and people). Ringworm in an individual cat is a nuisance; however, ringworm in an animal shelter can lead to completely unmanageable outbreaks, thousands of dollars in diagnostic and medical costs, the possibility of spread to adopters and staff, and an intolerable blow to shelter status in the community, according to officials. Ringworm can be spread readily on grooming implements, contaminated toys and bedding, or by humans on clothing and hands.

The shelter has always opted to euthanize animals with ringworm in the past. Due to limited funding, the treatment of zoonotic diseases like ringworm was never a priority due to the risk of spreading the disease to other animals and staff. The Niagara County SPCA cannot halt the intake of animals due to municipal contracts, so it needs to move infected animals out of the shelter to stop transmission between animals, Amy Lewis, interim executive director, said.

With these recent cases, it has come to light the need for protocol for treatment, medications used to treat ringworm infection and foster homes willing to administer the treatment. Proper cleaning protocols and isolation are imperative to keep ringworm from spreading in a shelter environment. As the temperatures and the humidity continue to rise, the Niagara County SPCA can expect to see more cases come into the shelter throughout the summer months, Lewis said. "We need the help of the community to save these animals' lives."

Those interested in providing foster homes can email the SPCA's foster care coordinator at [email protected] or call the shelter at 716-731-4368 and ask for the foster care department.

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