Diagnosis Ringworm: The Summer of my OCD I first saw innocent-looking scabs on one of the barn cats (Tiger) in late winter. It looked like a line of tiny dots, about 1/3 of an inch long. He got a second one some time later and I was not alarmed. I thought he might be allergic to something. I took Tiger to the vet and she surmised that he probably had an allergy and sent me home with some kind of allergy medication. About a week later a second cat, Golden Boy, showed a similar scab. At that point I realized that there was something contagious going on and took him back to the vet. She ran a culture for fungus and looked at some tissue under the microscope and thought she might be looking at some kind of mite. Well I wasn’t happy, but still thought things could be worse. I dosed all of the barn cats with Revolution. By then I had put one of the house cats in the barn for breeding. A cat in the house, Happy, that had been isolated because she was new to the house and because the other queens couldn’t tolerate her, came down with a now-familiar scab. I got the call a few days later and the nightmare began. The culture showed ringworm and there was no doubt: a little colony of spores was growing in a bright red sea. I am writing this to tell what worked and the mistakes I made that prolonged treatment There are three parts of treatment for ringworm: treating from the inside out (medication), treating from the outside in (the dreaded sulfur dip baths), and treating the environment. Here is a list of things I used to that end that I consider absolutely necessary: Itraconazole: sources below. Lyme-Dyp (Lyme sulfur dip available at Revival) A Hurricane Mister ($170.00 at Revival) A-33 and Trifectant. You should have this on hand anyway. You use it in the mister. Gallons of Clorox and little 1-quart spray bottles, but keep in mind that Clorox is not very effective on organic (wood) surfaces. An old fashioned dust mop, where you can remove the cloth part and launder it. A vacuum cleaner that you use only for the infected area. Mine was about $80.00. Lots of vacuum bags because you need to discard a bag every time you vacuum. HealthGuard laundry additive from Revival Here is what I think is very nice to have: Your own cultures (revival charges about $50.00 + $30.00 for overnight shipping, which is necessary because it has to be kept cold.) Sterile toothbrushes from Wal-Mart for doing toothbrush cultures Pinot Grigio, for obvious reasons The medical treatment The first thing I did was order Sporanox from a local pharmacy. The cost for 20 capsules was just over $200.00. The dose was ½ capsule a day for 3 (10 lb) cats and 1/3 capsule a day for a fourth, (7 lb.) cat. I divided each capsule in half, putting the little beads in another empty capsule. It’s important that you put both halves in the same baggie because if day one is short for cat 1, it gets compensated for on day 2. One cat got 1/3 of a capsule so she had a baggie with 3 capsules. When dosing, I sprinkled the beads on Gerber’s baby turkey or chicken. This was a huge treat for the cats: I’d scoop out a tablespoon of baby food and sprinkle the beads on it. They’d gobble it up. I did not plan to dose the one queen because I expected she was in the early stages of pregnancy. The original protocol was to give each cat Sporanox daily for 2 weeks and then “pulse” with Sporanox for 2 days a week for 6 weeks. This was a mistake. The cats should have been dosed with Sporanox daily for 4 weeks and then pulsed for 6 weeks: I ended up doing that eventually. Rule # 1: Medicate all cats that have contact with the affected cat or its environment. Mistake #1: Don’t try to shorten the treatment to save money. The external treatment: The next thing I did was order LymeDyp from Revival. I bathed each cat, including the pregnant one, twice weekly for about 4 weeks. Here is how I did it. I brought each cat into the small part of a tile-floored bathroom and shut the door so it couldn’t escape. I poured the lyme-dip over the cat, saturating with a washcloth while holding the cat on the floor. Bengals are short-haired so it could have been worse. I let the solution dry on the cat. The snows did not turn too green. Poor Golden Boy did feel the need to mark sections of the bathroom where he waited until the solution dried. I used Urine-Off on those areas. You can spot treat with Lyme-Dip too. Mistake #2: I tried all kinds of preparations for spot treatments: This included Betadine, Clorox, and walnut hull extract and various antifungal creams. I think it was all a waste of money except for the creams: when I broke out, they were helpful for my own lesion. Mistake #3: Program doesn’t work by itself and it doesn’t work combined with Lyme Dip. As Matilda’s pregnancy developed, her baths became so traumatic that I stopped bathing her. I treated her, unsuccessfully, with Program. I had kept her in the barn because I didn’t want to expose the indoor cats, all of whom were breeding queens. After awhile I moved her back into isolation in the house because, not having the Sporanox, she could re-contaminate the barn cats and the environment. By that time, her skin had turned grey and she had lost hair on about 1/3 of her body and had lost weight. At the 4th week of pregnancy, I began treating her with Sporanox, ¼ capsule a day. She responded within days. I treated her room the same way I treated the barn, vacuuming and disinfecting but not daily, more like every other day. Sometimes I swept with a Clorox-solution-sprayed broom and followed up with a Clorox-solution-sprayed dust mop. I put Matilda in a cage outside while the disinfectant dried, then disinfected the cage. When I left her room in the house, I sprayed the soles of my shoes with Desenex. By the time she delivered her kittens she was totally non-symptomatic. I did the opposite with Happy. When Matilda moved into the house, Happy was moved into the barn because she was on the same protocol as the barn cats. When Happy went into the barn, I disinfected the room she’d been in, including the underside of the bed she liked to sleep under, and I sent the rug out for professional cleaning. That’s when I found my diamond bracelet, lost some 9 months before: the cats had thrown in on the floor and scooted it to the inside center of the rug, between the rug and rug pad. Here’s the environmental protocol: Take all bedding and wash it daily and rinse with HealthGuard Throw away all carpeted cat furniture. It will only reinfect. This hurt, as I’d invested at Least $500.00 in cutsie little towers and stuff. Throw out all plastic dishes. They contribute to acne anyway. Soak all food dishes in Clorox 1:10 overnight (Use a plastic bucket—metal gets kind of funny.) Vacuum daily. Then remove the bag, spray the vacuum inside with Clorox and water 1:10, including the little filter thing. Soak the wand and attachments that you use in the same dilution of Clorox. Buy stock in Clorox. Mist with your Hurricane Mister daily, using A-33. You do this until you get negative cultures, about 6 weeks. My cats were in the runs while I did this. After the A-33 dried, they’d go back in the barn, and I’d disinfect the runs. Don’t forget to disinfect the little cat doors or flaps—especially if they’re “double,” installed in walls. Throw out all litter daily, mist the litter boxes with A-33 and put them in the sun. Fill the ones you cleaned yesterday with clean litter. After being in the environment with the ringworm, remove your clothing, wash and rinse in Healthguard. Don’t track the spores through your house, they are airborne. Install an air conditioner. In summer, my barn would have been a Petri dish without it. Don’t forget to disinfect it, though. Varnish or paint all wood surfaces: ringworm loves wood. Rule #2: decontaminate everything, every day. Send your own carpets out for cleaning if your cats have been in the same room with them. Mistake #4: scrubbing your carpeted cat furniture can’t kill all the spores even if you leave them out in the sun. Matilda was miserable in isolation and paced and whined constantly. At 4:00 a.m on the morning she delivered, I put her back in the barn because she was keeping me awake with her crying (she’d been on Sporanox for 5 weeks at that point). I went out at 6:00 a.m. to feed the cats, and she had just delivered her first kitten, placenta as yet undelivered. I scooped her and the attached kitten up and carried them back into her room, where she delivered another 5 kittens. No kitten broke with ringworm, ever. However, one kitten had pectus excavatum, apparently unrelated to the Sporanox. Rule #3: use the list members as resources. Breeders hide ringworm, as if it were a social disease. We probably need to stop that. This is the place where I want to thank people who offered me advice: I am not mentioning names because a few of you asked that your experiences be kept private and I can’t remember which ones wanted that. But I do remember who told me about the Hurricane Mister, who helped me work with the cultures, who advised me that only 2 weeks of Sporanox was not enough and who supported me in giving Sporanox to my pregnant queen. And on and on. Sources of Itraconazole: Sporanox 100mg at your local pharmacy: $200.00 for 20 capsules Sporanox at Universal Drugstore in Canada: About $125.00 for 30 capsules (at least 3 weeks for delivery) Sporal 100 mg at 1meds.com: $75.00 for 52 caps (from Southeast Asia but delivery within a week, no prescription necessary. Sporal 100 mg at 1Drugstore-Online.com: $152.00 for 40 caps You can also get a generic Itraconazole from Mexico that some people swear by but my vet warned me against. There is powder in the capsules making it harder to divide, but it’s the cheapest yet, $30.00 for something like 40 capsules. Here’s how you run a culture Take a sterile toothbrush and run it over your cat’s fur, with special attention to the neck area.. with sterile tweezers, place the hairs you get on the culture medium. Press them into the medium. Cap it, label it, then loosen the cap. Keep it in a dark place and look at it daily. The mold for ringworm has to grow at the same time the medium turns red. If your cat is taking Sporanox, do not consider the test negative before 3 weeks time. If it is not medicated, and there is ringworm, you should see growth within a week but keep it for 3 weeks. Timeline The first 4 weeks: Sporanox daily, vacuum & disinfect daily, 2 dips weekly The next 6 weeks: “pulse” with 2 days on, 5 days off, reduce cleaning to every other day At 5 weeks, run 1st culture At 7 weeks, run 2nd culture. Decontaminate weekly after 2nd negative culture. Rule #4: Symptomatic cure is not mycologic cure. You can’t tell if the cat is cured by looking. Cure is 2 negative cultures, 2 weeks apart.