Predominantly plaguing felines, ringworm is a fungal skin infection that can be difficult and time-consuming to treat in a high-volume shelter setting. It is highly contagious and can be transmitted to other animals and humans – adding to the complexity of ringworm treatment management. However, a new study out of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine aims to determine if there are viable treatment alternatives to the standard, stinky and labor-intensive, lime sulfur treatment for shelter cats with ringworm.
In summer 2022, coordinators with Cornell who were familiar with Seattle Humane’s commitment to treating a high volume of animals with infectious conditions, reached out to Dr. Jessica Reed, Vice President of Veterinary Services at Seattle Humane, with an invitation to participate. Seattle Humane sees a significant number of ringworm cases in pets transferred through our Lifesaver Rescue program.
Lime sulfur dips stink!
Literally and figuratively. The chemical concoction fills the shelter with the smell of rotten eggs and often leaves behind a yellowish tint on cats’ fur. The dips are time-consuming and labor-intensive to administer, requiring careful handling and frequent application. If less offensive shampoos can cure ringworm in a similar timeframe as their stinky counterpart, the study is poised to provide improved treatment options beneficial for both the afflicted felines and the dedicated shelter staff who care for them.
The Study in Action at Seattle Humane
Seattle Humane’s animal care associates play a vital role in the study by administering the treatments and collecting the samples for the cats enrolled. Cats receive their assigned topical treatment twice a week, and samples for ringworm cultures are collected and submitted to the laboratory twice a week as well.
The treatments and sample collection continue until the animals are clear of ringworm. As study participants, Seattle Humane’s goal is to treat 25 cats with alternative treatments. As of the first week of June 2023, the first 15 ringworm-positive cats participating in the program were cleared of ringworm!
Doing Our Part for Pets
Seattle Humane is grateful for the opportunity to play a hands-on role in academic research to diversify treatment options for shelter cats with ringworm. This initiative shows promise to benefit the cats and the dedicated shelter personnel who care for them.