Ringworm is a common fungal infection that affects small mammals such as guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils. It’s caused by a type of fungus called Microsporum canis. This fungus is found on an infected animal’s skin and can be spread to other animals through contact with their fur or bedding.
Symptoms of Small Mammal Ringworm
The most common symptom of Ringworm is a ring-shaped patch of hair loss. This patch can be red, scaly, or have a crusty appearance. Other symptoms include:
- Skin irritation
- Secondary bacterial infections
In severe cases, the affected area can become swollen and ulcerated.
Diagnosing Small Mammal Ringworm
Your veterinarian can diagnose Ringworm by taking a sample of the affected skin for laboratory testing. The sample will be examined with a microscope to look for the fungus. In some cases, your vet could also take a fungal culture to confirm the diagnosis.
Stages of Small Mammal Ringworm
Ringworm progresses through three stages: the early stage, the active stage, and the late stage.
The early stage is associated with small round patches of hair loss that are red and scaly. These patches can be itchy and can spread to other areas of their body.
During the active stage, the patches can become larger and more inflamed. The skin will usually become thick and crusty, and secondary bacterial infections can occur.
The late stage is associated with the lesions healing, but some scarring could remain.
Treating Small Mammal Ringworm
If your pet is diagnosed with Ringworm, your veterinarian will recommend a course of treatment. Treatment typically includes topical applications of an antifungal cream or ointment. Your pet might also be given antibiotics to fight any secondary bacterial infections that can develop. In severe cases, surgery might be required to remove the fungus from the affected area.
Preventing Small Mammal Ringworm
The best way to prevent the spread of Ringworm is to practice good hygiene. Good hygiene includes regularly cleaning and disinfecting your pet’s bedding and habitat, as well as washing your hands after handling any animals. It’s important to keep all small mammals separate from one another to avoid cross-contamination.