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6 Things I Learned from Our Ringworm Plague (book length....)

post #1 of 163
Thread Starter 
A loud, warm THANK YOU!! to everyone on this site who calmed me down and gave me advice and support when our cats developed ringworm in October. The treatment was not fun, but we got through it — successfully, it appears! Our kittens have now had 3 negative cultures. Our older Persians, who had no symptoms, got the full treatment, too, and had single negative cultures.

Ringworm is difficult and confusing to deal with — you're fighting an invisible enemy, often with invisible weapons. So I thought I should share a few things I learned, in hopes of helping others who are dealing with ringworm, especially in a multicat household.

I'm sorry this is so long, but I suspect that people who are reeling from ringworm will read it anyway!

1. Get going. If ringworm is suspected and a culture is done, start treatment right away. Don't wait (up to 3 weeks) for the culture results. Time's a-wastin' — don't let the spores keep spreading for weeks.

While your vet probably won't recommend starting oral meds before you have a diagnosis (they can have bad side effects), you can start treating the cats with lime-sulfur dips, which are disgusting but not dangerous. The lime-sulfur kills spores in the fur and that keeps them from spreading through your home, to other animals, and to you. If you're concerned about isolating infected cats, lime sulfur can make that unnecessary.

Ringworm is airborne. Chances are good that all of your cats and your whole house have been exposed by the time you find a lesion on someone. You can also start putting antifungal cream on those lesions. While this may not be a very effective treatment, a cream will at least coat the area and help keep the spores contained.

Also: begin your housecleaning regime NOW, which will further reduce the spore population. More on this, below.


2. Don't obsess. Avoid over-Googling "ringworm" on the Internet. Along with all the varying treatment approaches, there's a ton of misinformation, useless products for sale, and scary stuff I wish I hadn't read. Ringworm may be gross, but at least it is not deadly. Deep breaths.

Here's the best source of info I found, by one of the leading vet experts on dermatophytosis: http://www.giveshelter.org/resources/dermatophyte.pdf

Although this info is geared to shelters, it gives clear, useful, up-to-date advice about how to diagnose, treat, and cope with the fungus.

I found help, encouragement, kindness, and commiseration here on TheCatSite! Discovering this community was the silver lining of my ringworm odyssey.


3. Clean. A LOT. The PDF above gives commonsense cleaning advice. Much of what you'll read elsewhere tells you to soak everything in your house in 10% bleach solution, rip out ductwork, and toss carpeting — which isn't practical for most of us. If you don't live in a kennel, you'll need a more doable approach, and you'll find some hints here. If you can't kill the spores with bleach or a blowtorch, you need to gather them up and dispose of them, as you would with dust mites or other allergens. Think of ringworm spores like that, and you'll understand what you need to do.

For me, it meant sending my carpets out to be cleaned, sanitized, and stored for the duration. I also removed, washed, and stored curtains, pillows, bedskirts, and other textiles, to make daily cleaning easier. I covered my upholstery with Indian bedspreads and washed them often, drying them in a hot, steamy, condensation dryer to kill spores. I dusted my ceiling molding and dry-swiffered my walls, doors, and windows once a week.

I wiped down everything in the apt with a damp microfiber cloth I rinsed often in very hot water. And I vacuumed my floors daily and damp-mopped them weekly.

I also vacuumed upholstery, including the undersides of the sofa, chairs and boxsprings, where my kittens would go. I hate cleaning, but one does need an outlet for all the nervous energy that ringworm anxiety generates.

On the advice of people here, I bought Health Laundry Additive and Disinfectant from RevivalAnimal.com. It contains a controversial fungicide/disinfectant called Triclosan (Vibax), found in everything from Dial soap to toothpaste, that may cause cancer. I didn't care: I put it in our laundry and sprayed a mist of it all over everything in the house a few times. Then I stopped. I don't know if it worked or not, but it made me feel like I was fighting fire with fire.


4. You need a serious vacuum cleaner. My vet's "Ringworm Fact Sheet," which was copied from popular sites on the Internet, recommended buying a cheap vacuum cleaner, tossing the bag every day, and throwing out the vac after treatment ended. This seems very wrong: a cheap vacuum will suck in spores — and then blow them back into the air in the exhaust. You need a really good vac, like a Miele, which has self-sealing, 9-layer bags and a HEPA filter that filters particles a fraction of the size of m. canis spores. A Miele actually purifies the air as you vacuum. And you don't have to toss the bags, either because they seal themselves when you turn off the vac. I'm replacing my HEPA filter now that we're clear. Most Miele dealers sell refurbs at good prices.


5. Treat ALL animals at once — and do everything at the same time. This means oral meds (after the diagnosis), topical cream, and dips for everyone together — and you are cleaning the whole time, so that you're attacking the monster from every angle. If you follow the plan outlined in the PDF above, you may not have to clip your cats — and can start culturing your cats WEEKS sooner than most vets recommend, and this will save time and money in the long run. It might help to show your vet the PDF — I was lucky that mine knew all about Dr. Moriello's work and uses her protocol. (Some variation seems to be okay: in our 4-cat household, we had all the cats dipped once, not twice a week, in the more dilute concentration, for example.)


6. Use the right medications. Don't fall for miracle products you read about online that aren't backed up by scientific research. Don't use bleach on your cats. Don't use griseofulvin: it's dangerous and there are equally effective, safer alternatives. Don't use generic itraconazole, use the patented Sporanox, which is more effective. Or use generic Lamisil (terbinafine), which is relatively new. It is also effective, less expensive, safer, and you only need to dose for 2 weeks.

We got discounts on our Sporanox (for little kittens) and terbinafine (for larger kittens and cats) from CVS with our AAA card.

Use lime-sulfur dip even though you hate it. The cats don't seem to mind, and although it reeks, it works! I was less allergic to the Vet Solutions brand than the DermaPet stuff. I was blessed to find a groomer to do it for us.

Good Luck!
post #2 of 163
Thanks for all that! I am so glad for you that it is turning out OK. As one who has been through the nightmare of ringworm, I know that the right info is hard to find. I also found Lamisil one of the best meds, both topical and oral.
post #3 of 163
Very informative and thank you for sharing your experience. I'm sure it will help others who are facing the same thing.

So glad your little ones are on the road to recovery!! Have their other problems gone away as well (URIs)?
post #4 of 163
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stephanietx View Post
Very informative and thank you for sharing your experience. I'm sure it will help others who are facing the same thing.

So glad your little ones are on the road to recovery!! Have their other problems gone away as well (URIs)?
Hi Stephanie,

Thanks again for all of your help with my cats! I didn't see your post until now.

Yes, the boys recovered from the calicivirus and it hasn't come back. I stopped stuffing everyone with lysine when the ringworm dips ended.

Possum still, occasionally, has a coughing fit, about every week or two, and I freak out with worry. My vet is much less concerned because it isn't happening that often. She thinks it's a lingering effect of the virus. I had him tested for lungworms, because I worry about his exposure to parasites (including heartworms, which my vet thinks is unlikely) when he was a feral baby for his first 10 weeks. The test was negative. If he keeps coughing, we'll pursue it further with blood and allergy tests and X-rays. But in the meantime, he's getting a flabby lion paunch and seems to be enjoying life tremendously.
post #5 of 163
Bunnelina, well done!
post #6 of 163
You've won the war!!!!
post #7 of 163
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by esrandall2000 View Post
You've won the war!!!!
Or so we all think. I suppose it might come back if I don't keep cleaning!

But we can actually joke about it now. Thanks for your encouragement!
post #8 of 163
Thank you for this post, I'm going thru the same thing with my two kittens. So sad for them, yet totally grossed out and trying to remain calm. Doing all of the above, except for the new vaccum. I would love to buy one, but already so broke with cost of vet bills, meds, etc. I'm just going to try my best to clean clean cleaN!
I was worried about kitten islolation, but it sounds like they will come out of it ok. I just feel so bad for the little puffballs. They need cuddles and I'm so scared to cuddle them. I can't help but play and pet them a little, but then I feel like I have to wash EVERYTHING on me and myself afterwards.
I could kill the people we got them from. Also mad at my own ignorance.
post #9 of 163

HOW can you use Lamasil topically on cats when it is poisonous for them to ingest?  I am using it on myself, and would love to start treating Max's spot NOW, but I've read topicals are toxic when ingested.
 

post #10 of 163

Thank you so much for this post... I am panicking... trying no to. This has been an on-going saga!!!! I am SO angry at our vet. We have been at this for 2 months and they never mentioned about the spores, the spreading, or the dips. Maybe it's because one of the affected cats is only like 7 months old (i guess 5 when this ordeal started)?  Both cats were on Terbaniafin for 21 days, then off for 10, now back on for 14 more. THEY HATE THEIR MEDS.  One of them has to have them crushed into special liquid (very pricey from the local vet pharmacy!) that he loathes. And I just came back from my doctor because *I* have two nasty spots now. Looks like two cigarette burns... awesome. My physician has me on some topical stuff and now come terbanifin for myself (which turns out to be rough o the liver!!! that's what the cats are getting... is it bad for them??)

post #11 of 163

I just realized I posted this on the wrong forum....  moving to the other ringworm forum where Sadie's Mom was talking about these products.

 

Ohh~ and as a side note, the Pets Best Rx stuff can be bought individually...  took a little digging around.  idea.gif

 

PuraCleenRx Disinfectant Spray: http://shop.qbased.com/non-toxic-environmental-disinfectant-spray-32oz-p/pc00097.htm

 

Pets'BestRx Healing & Protection Spray - 2 oz: http://shop.qbased.com/promotes-pet-healing-relieves-itching-2oz-p/pb00010.htm

 

Pets'BestRx Sulfinex Cream - 2 oz: http://shop.qbased.com/pets-non-toxic-medicated-skin-cream-2oz-p/pb00059.htm

 

****please note that I have not tried these products yet***  I just wanted to post these links for everyone's convenience

post #12 of 163

This was a very informative post, thank you! I have ringworm in my cattery with two cats showing symptoms. I've done the first lime sulfur dip on all the cats and this is what I have questions about.

#1: The link/PDF referenced in the original post (now at http://www.giveshelter.org/dermatophyte-treatment-in-a-nutshell.html) mentions using an 8 oz/1 gal. solution. I have only seen a weaker solution given, 4 oz/1gal. listed on my bottle of concentrate and also in most other instructions about how to dip. Is this safe to do? Does it matter what the brand is or "strength" of the concentrate? Does it work better at the stronger rate of dilution?

#2: Is is possible for the ringworm to get worse? Or look worse after a dip? One of the cats is showing even more significant hair loss on her ears since last week's dip. In between, I've been using Vetericyn Hydrogel, finishing with 2% miconazole on her ears daily, but they look worse.

 

#3: Can I do cultures at home? I have eight foster cats and would like to manage the ringworm as inexpensively as possible. The last two cats I adopted out developed vet-diagnosed and cultured ringworm, so I didn't need to take any of my fosters to the vet to know I had a problem.

 

I'm waiting for a shipment of oral terbinafine, which should come next week and all the cats will be treated with that as well. I threw out the carpeted cat furniture and have sprayed 10% bleach on anything that couldn't be washed. Looks like a HEPA vacuum or air cleaner is next on the list.

post #13 of 163

Thank you for the post! And thank you NikoOkamoto for the updated link. We have 2 cats and a dog with it now and the culture still out on the third cat. This is a scary nightmare.

post #14 of 163
It is a scary nightmare and I'm sorry to read your going through this. I'm at the tail end of this myself. It all started right before Labor Day weekend. My own cat contracted it from two kittens I adopted from a shelter. They had no visible signs - my older cat just finished her second course of intraconzole and is now on her week "off" and only one more "on" week to go. I will take back the kittens next week. They promised that they have been dipped every five days for 3 weeks and have been together isolated from the rest of the population. (I had to bring them back until my cat and my family recovered" when I pick them up, they are going right to the vet to be bathed in antifungal shampoo baths and neutered. They will stay for a few days for observation before I bring them home. It's been a long road of constant cleaning and laundry and isolation of my cat. My goodness the laundry was ridiculous, but I'm praying and making sure that this does not happen again! Good luck and happy cleaning! smile.gif
post #15 of 163

Catmom110, I am so sorry to hear you've been suffering through this! Thank you for responding to my post - it is so encouraging to hear that someone is actually making it through what currently feels like an endless process! Today begins week 2 of the oral meds for all the animals, so we still have a while to go. I hope your kittens will be all better when you take them back, and that your cat and family are healed as well. How has your cat handled the isolation? I am worried about our pets having so little attention, but praying (a LOT) that everyone will come out of this ok. If you have the time, I'd love to hear updates on how they are doing! Best of luck!

post #16 of 163
Hi Michelle,
Jackie my cat was in isolation in my den. She had an entire room to herself with two sunny windows and cable tv! My husband, son and I spent a lot of time with her. The room is carpeted and furnished, but I covered the sectional couch with large king sized sheets that I changed every day, hepa vacuumed, and sprayed all the hard surfaces with this windex like fluid called shock wave that can be purchased on line. I also vacuumed the couch every day and went over the baseboards and walls. I swiffered the walls and blinds and basically cleaned the room everyday. I now know that ringworm is everywhere in our environment, but it when it's in concentrated amounts, that's when it's contagious. So I actually wanted to pull my couches out, but realized that when I renovated the den that since the wall into I have in there was built on the wall, there was no chance of removing this sectional. But so far so good. No one has had any new lesions! And Jackie is now back in my bed at night. I'm picking up the kittens in Sunday and they are going directly to the vet who already had ordered oral intraconzole for them! I will also isolated them, or at least keep them out of my bedroom. Don't want to have to change sheets and comforter everyday. I just can't be too sure. But within 3 weeks, and I pray....that I don't get anymore lesions, I know that the combination of cleaning, hand washing, vacuuming and medicine has done its job.
post #17 of 163
About the isolation - Jackie wasn't thrilled - but look at it this way - they sleep something like 16-17 hours a day? If they are in one room that you can hang out in that's comfortable for you as well - any room that's not a bedroom that you can clean easily (take out nick nacks) that has sunlight and a place where you can cuddle them - it will be ok. I bought a cheap pair of hospital scrubs and wore it when I was in the room. And when exiting took off the scrubs and hung them on a temporary hook at the back of the door. I wore a lot of leggings so I could still be dressed when I left the room. And washed my hands. I was nervous that she was going to dart out of the room when I opened the door, which she eventually did, but I kept all doors to any room shut. Instead of counting down the days, I counted down the weeks. It made it seem shorter - by Christmas hopefully this will be behind you or maybe before -
post #18 of 163
Just remember that ringworm is everywhere - it's only in concentrated amounts that causes problems - don't make yourself crazy like I did. I sorta went overboard and felt helpless attacking this invisible enemy. smile.gif
post #19 of 163
Thread Starter 

Checking in here... we didn't use topical Lamisil. We used a couple of other topicals our vet prescribed and they turned out to be harsh and irritating, so we just dabbed more concentrated lime-sulfur on the lesions. I would say that topical creams are the least effective weapon in the arsenal for ringworm: lime-sulfur dips and the right oral meds will do the job.

post #20 of 163
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NikoOkamoto View Post
 

This was a very informative post, thank you! I have ringworm in my cattery with two cats showing symptoms. I've done the first lime sulfur dip on all the cats and this is what I have questions about.

#1: The link/PDF referenced in the original post (now at http://www.giveshelter.org/dermatophyte-treatment-in-a-nutshell.html) mentions using an 8 oz/1 gal. solution. I have only seen a weaker solution given, 4 oz/1gal. listed on my bottle of concentrate and also in most other instructions about how to dip. Is this safe to do? Does it matter what the brand is or "strength" of the concentrate? Does it work better at the stronger rate of dilution?

#2: Is is possible for the ringworm to get worse? Or look worse after a dip? One of the cats is showing even more significant hair loss on her ears since last week's dip. In between, I've been using Vetericyn Hydrogel, finishing with 2% miconazole on her ears daily, but they look worse.

 

#3: Can I do cultures at home? I have eight foster cats and would like to manage the ringworm as inexpensively as possible. The last two cats I adopted out developed vet-diagnosed and cultured ringworm, so I didn't need to take any of my fosters to the vet to know I had a problem.

 

I'm waiting for a shipment of oral terbinafine, which should come next week and all the cats will be treated with that as well. I threw out the carpeted cat furniture and have sprayed 10% bleach on anything that couldn't be washed. Looks like a HEPA vacuum or air cleaner is next on the list.

 

Hi there, 

 

Sorry to be checking in late, I'm not getting notifications about posts here for some reason. When I remember what a terrified mess I was when I first learned my cats had ringworm, I continue to be inspired and impressed with how calmly and sanely other people — like you — on this site are handling it especially when they have large numbers of cats (we "only" had four). To answer your questions:

 

1. We used the lower dilution that I think was recommended on the Vet Solutions bottle. It worked for us, but then we may not have had a virulent strain of the fungus. If you are concerned about your cats getting worse, dip them more often (two times a week) for insurance. The lower concentration still seemed very powerful. Just be sure to work it deeply into the fur and let it dry without rinsing.  We preferred Vet Solutions because DermaPet gave me an allergic reaction. Perhaps it's a lot stronger.

 

2.  Be careful about topicals gels and creams: some of them are harsh and will cause further irritation while not treating the lesions. I'm worried that you might be seeing side-effects of the miconazole and not worsening ringworm. The oral meds and the dips are said to be more effective, since both are systemic. For a topical treatment, you might try dabbing the stronger concentration of lime-sulfur on lesions and affected areas instead. It's supposed to be soothing and not harmful. We mixed up about a cup of solution in a jar and kept it around for dabbing on noses and ears. My calico cat has permanent black "dead" patches on her white ears from the nasty topical gel we used. Wish I could remember what it was.

 

3. You could probably collect the fur for the cultures at home, but they will need to go to a lab for incubation and examination, of course. A cooperative vet can give you culture kits (sterile toothbrush, container with growing medium) and show you what to do. And that should save you the cost of those office visits, at least. We considered buying an incubator for our vet's office since it would have cost less than the cost of all the cultures we needed. I can't remember why that fell through; we definitely paid for a LOT of cultures. 

 

I hope this is helpful. I will be checking in back here and I will also try to figure out why I'm not getting messages!

 

Best,

 

Bunnelina


Edited by Bunnelina - 11/8/13 at 10:24pm
post #21 of 163
Thread Starter 

Update on where to find Dr. Karen Moriello's ringworm treatment plan:  http://www.giveshelter.org/images/stories/Programs/Ringworm_Treatment/About_Us.pdf

post #22 of 163

This was a great article and finding to be very helpful. My oldest kitty was just diagnosed with ringworm and was doing a bit of research and come across this entry. I was trying to find the pdf that is mentioned in the entry with a link. The link no longer takes you to the pdf and was hoping someone may have saved it and could forward me a copy. If anyone has it or know where it find it, that would be great.

 

Thanks, Sam

post #23 of 163
Thread Starter 

Hi Scottsam, 

 

Aha! I have finally found the new link to "Dermatophyte Treatment in a Nutshell": 

 

http://www.giveshelter.org/dermatophyte-treatment-in-a-nutshell.html

 

Hmm. one update I know of, since this article is old (but still considered the Ringworm Bible): generic oral Terbinafine (Lamasil)
has been available for four years now and it is not expensive at all — and said to be effective. I used it.
It can also be easier to obtain than Sporanox, the only brand of itraconazole that IS effective. 

 

You might also be interested in this: http://www.sheltermedicine.com/node/56

 

It seems quite comprehensive.

 

Here's another up-to-date source you can try, too:

 

http://www.wvc.org/images/session_notes_2013/2013_SA62.pdf

 

It's written for vets, but when you're dealing with ringworm, you become an honorary vet because you have to learn so much... about things you never wanted to know....

 

That's probably all anyone needs to deal with this invisible beast. Best of luck to you! You will survive, I promise. If I managed, anyone can.


Edited by Bunnelina - 11/13/13 at 7:55pm
post #24 of 163

Bunnelina, Hi.

 

I was not sure if you might know the answer to question for us.

 

I was reading in your articles, that we love about vacuums.

 

We too have a Miele filter but it does not have a hepa filter, just Mieles air filter.

 

It retains 99.95% of particles down to 0.5 of a micron and 94% of particles down to 0.3 of a micron. 

 

Do you know what size the m. canis spores are.

 

I was hoping our vacuum would be ok.

 

Thanks, Sam

post #25 of 163
Thread Starter 

Hi there,

 

Four years ago, I called Miele and talked to a fellow who assured me that the HEPA filter would catch particles the size of m. canis.  I think you would have to call them and see if their regular filters are as good, but I replaced mine with one of their pricey HEPAs and that's what I used. Somewhere I found the size of the m. canis spore online before I called them, and I imagine it's still out there somewhere on Google. Both filters fit into the same place on the vacuum so no worries there if they tell you the regular filter isn't right for this job.

 

Good luck!

 

Bunnelina

post #26 of 163

Bunnelina, Hi.

 

Thanks so much for the info. I will give them a call.

Unfortunately, our miele vacuum can't accommodate the hepa filter. 

I called them yesterday on that question hoping it would.

 

Thanks so much again and your articles has been most helpful (:

 

Take Care, Sam

post #27 of 163

I'm posting so that all people who have older kitties have this information.  I found 2 kittens that I brought home who had ringworm.  They were very young and didn't show signs.  My other cats got it from them, one was 2 and the other 15.  They were on terbinafine (Lamisil) the same thing my own doctor would not prescribe to me because of danger to the liver,  I questioned the vet and she assured me that it was safe and cats tolerated it well..  They took it for a total of 5 days and my older cat died.  I had the younger ones blood work done the same day and her liver functions were off the charts.  Just think everyone should know that terbinafine has not been extensively tested on felines and I think after my research,

not tested on older cats.  The vet I used has reported it to the FDA and the drug manufacturer, but wanted others to know as well.

post #28 of 163
Thread Starter 

Amyk,

 

I am so sorry for your loss. That is a terrible story, everyone's worst nightmare as we try to do our best for our cats. I think it is really kind of you to report this here, to potentially save other cats —  while you are still coping with your own loss. Thank you from all of us. 

 

My two teenaged Persians took terbinafine for the usual course, without problems, and one was actually extremely ill with calici virus at the same time. So I have recommended it from personal experience, but I always try to do so in terms of "Ask your vet about this because it worked for us...." Now I don't know if we were lucky, or if our vet was using a much lower dosage, or perhaps even a different generic version. I'd like to tell my vet about your situation, because I know she prescribes terbinafine after having treated my cats (we were the first to use it in her practice so you can imagine how I feel upon reading your story).

 

Can you please tell us what the dosage was for your cats, and their weights? I'm sure it would be useful for those of us who want to talk to our vets about these issues.

 

I wish I could amend my original post to describe your unfortunate situation and post a warning, but the site doesn't let me update it. I can only hope that everyone who comes here will read your post and take it to heart. 

 

Many thanks again, and my deepest sympathy....

 

bunnelina

post #29 of 163

The terbinafine dosage I was told to give was 30-40mg/kg, once a day. Since I last posted, the cats have had 2.5 weeks of medication and that's all I had (a bottle of 100 tablets). So far I've done 7 weekly dips and in the last week, started spot treating their ears with lime sulfur dip every other day. Bought a true HEPA air cleaner and run it 24/7. I wipe most of the hard surfaces down with 1:10 bleach solution daily.

There are now 7 out of 8 cats with various stages of ringworm on their ears. I haven't seen it on their feet, tails, or faces (yet). Unfortunately, another cat in an adjoining room with 5 other cats has started showing hair loss on her ears. I've started the lime sulfur dip spot treatment on their ears also; one of the cats is semi feral and I'll never be able to catch her to do any kind of treatment.

Am feeling like I'm waging a losing battle here. I've been reading about some stuff called chlorine dioxide that supposedly kills ringworm in like a minute. Non-toxic and not toxic like bleach. Can be used in a fogger and also directly on the cats. Has anyone tried this stuff? It looks like chlorine dioxide is used for water treatment. For veterinary use, I mainly only found it here: http://www.jkatinc.com/

 

post #30 of 163

When you suspect your cat has ringworm, you should immediately seek veterinary attention. The vet will perform tests to determine if it is actually ringworm. Follow the vet's treatment protocol. Treatment usually lasts about two weeks. The cat with ringworm should be isolated from all other pets in the household. You should vacuum the entire house daily. Remember to disinfect hard surfaces, too. Dispose of anything your cat has come into contact with.

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