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Ringworm in Cattle

Ringworm is a fungal infection that is most commonly observed on younger animals. Outbreaks generally occur in the late fall and winter months. Most of the cases are identified by loss of hair and the formation of scabs in the neck and head region. Young animals are more susceptible to the fungus, but older animals can also be infected. Once an animal has experienced an episode of ringworm, it is unlikely to have a second episode.

The main cause of infection is by direct contact between animals. Purchased cattle that have ringwork introduced into a naïve herd is one possible cause. Spores can live for months on surfaces or years in the soil.

The disease is spread by direct animal to animal contact or by animals rubbing on infected surfaces such as posts, bars on feeders, and water bowls. Using show equipment between different animals is another source of infection. Spores can be released from the soil in pens. Duration of the infection can be anywhere from 1 to 4 months.

To prevent the spread of the fungal infection, isolate or segregate infected animals from the main herd. Applying a 4% chlorine disinfectant solution onto exposed structural surfaces kills the spores and reduces the spread of the infection.

Information in the preceding paragraphs was sourced from the MSD Animal Health website,

In an article written by Dr. Roy Lewis in the Alberta Farmer Express (February 2011), he mentions that there are registered vaccines available to treat ringworm, but they are expensive. Some “home remedies” are also available that can reduce the severity of the infection. Removing the crusty material with a stiff brush and then applying “Kopertox” or a Hibitane cream twice on a weekly interval is recommended.

Dr. Lewis cautions that ringworm can infect humans. Use protective clothing, eye ware and gloves when treating infected animals is recommended.

For more information on ringworm and treatment options, it is recommended that you consult with your veterinarian.


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