Ringworm outbreak a nuisance | SteamboatToday.com

Ringworm outbreak a nuisance

Animal shelter working to rid facility of nonthreatening infection

Brent Boyer

Julie Enderby cleans out drawers while bleaching the contents of the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter on Thursday afternoon. The cleaning process is in response to a recent outbreak of ringworm at the shelter.

— Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter officials say a recent ringworm outbreak at the facility is more of a nuisance than a health threat. They hope to have the shelter disinfected and free of the infection within the next couple of weeks.

Julie Enderby, the shelter’s kennel manager, said the outbreak likely was triggered by an infected animal brought to the Steamboat Springs facility. Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection that can be spread from animal to animal and animal to human. The infection is not life-threatening and can be treated with medication.

“If anything, it’s just annoying,” Enderby said. “It’s nothing serious. We just want to disinfect everything. If we miss one spore, we could be dealing with this for years.”

The shelter was closed from July 20 through Wednesday because of the outbreak. The shelter has reopened on a limited basis, and Enderby said shelter staff will be on hand to answer questions and issue pet licenses. However, dogs won’t be available for adoption until Monday, and cats won’t be available for adoption for as many as three more weeks.

Ringworm is more contagious in cats than dogs, Enderby said. The facility has more than 20 cats and only a few dogs.

Shelter staff members have spent the past several days cleaning the building with a bleach-water solution. Animals will continue to be tested for ringworm until each produces two negative results.

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Ringworm has nothing to do with worms. Its name comes from the characteristic red ring that can appear on an infected person’s skin. In pets, ringworm is often distinguishable by patches of missing hair. However, other diseases and infections also can cause a loss of hair in pets, so Enderby recommends concerned pet owners take their animals to a veterinarian for tests.

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