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Horse ringworm is one of the most common infections in equestrian centers and stud farms. In summer as in winter, this fungus spreads very easily between equids, but in some very rare cases it can also be transmitted to humans. Here are a few tips to get rid of it effectively.
First of all, let’s decipher what exactly is horse ringworm: it is a contagious mycosis causing skin lesions on horses. It affects horses of all ages, both males and females. The symptoms of ringworm are well-defined areas of skin with flakes of skin (dry ringworm, the most common), gradually covering the head, neck and back. Some varieties of ringworm can present oozing and slightly raised lesions, one speaks then of suppurated ringworm (rarer). In any case, they do not cause itching.
Horse ringworm is transmitted between equids, but some agents can also be transmitted through the ground. These fungi have a very long lifespan, since they can remain present in the environment for up to 18 months.
In order to diagnose ringworm in your horse, your veterinarian will take a hair sample, which will then be examined under a microscope in the clinic. Examinations may also include a microbiological culture to determine the fungus in question and its mode of transmission (between equids and/or via the soil). However, these tests can take up to 4 weeks, which makes the final diagnosis quite long.
Once the diagnosis has been made, your veterinarian will be able to choose between different treatments. The most common treatment for horse ringworm is local, it consists of applying an antimycotic (enilcolazone) or iodine-based antiseptic to the lesions, using a sponge dedicated to the treatment, without rinsing. This treatment will be repeated approximately every 3 or 4 days, and must be applied with gloves. In some severe cases of horse ringworm, your veterinarian may also prescribe a general treatment based on griseofulvin, for about 10 days.
In addition to the medical treatment, many measures must be observed in order to avoid a spread of the fungus to other equids in your structure. In particular, your horse should have its own grooming and harnessing equipment. All your textiles (saddle pads, blankets, work strips, etc.) and brushes must be cleaned with Imaveral (leave in a bag for 2 days before rinsing) or put in the washing machine with a disinfectant. Under no circumstances should horses suffering from ringworm come into contact with healthy horses. Also avoid touching healthy horses after touching horses with ringworm without first washing your hands. The stalls, feeders and shelters frequented by horses with ringworm should also be disinfected.
Feed supplements can also be given to your horse to promote hair growth and strengthen its immune system, such as brewer’s yeast.
In order to avoid a return of ringworm in your stables, a few measures can help you. First of all, make sure that your horse is not deficient in vitamins and trace elements. Your horse’s diet and lifestyle must be adapted to its needs. Indeed, skin conditions tend to affect horses with a weakened immune system more easily.
Also make sure you use (as far as possible) equipment that is unique to your horse, since spores are easily transmitted from one horse to another via saddle pads or grooming equipment. Also, remember to disinfect the stables at least once a year.