This fact sheet was developed by students enrolled in Purdue's ANSC 442 Sheep Management course in Spring 2001, as a semester project. These fact sheets provide useful information on various topics related to sheep. View the list of fact sheets.


RINGWORM IN SHEEP

What is Ringworm?

Ringworm in sheep, along with other animals, is caused by two genera of fungi. These two fungi are Trichophyton and Microsporum, which a lot of times obligate parasites of the wool, hair and skin. Ringworm is very contagious from animal to animal, especially in dense population conditions. Not only does ringworm spread from animal to animal, but to humans as well. It can cause very severe skin lesions to anyone who comes in contact with the infected animal. Usually the clinical severity on humans is worse than how bad the host is infected. If severe enough ringworm can cause scarring.

Prepare for Fungus at Lamb Shows

Sheep exhibitors should prepare for summer shows by examining your sheep for the show ring. Shearing and washing removes all the natural suint and lanolin that helps protect sheep from ringworm. Everyone who shows sheep needs to be aware of ringworm and how it spreads. In the past few years, the outbreak of ringworm has been on the rise, sheep fitters and showmen should take the proper precautions to try and prevent the disease from spreading. Showmen need to reduce bathing and shearing of lambs because these lambs seem to be more susceptible. Infection results from direct contact as well as indirect contact through combs, brushes, blankets, clippers, and contaminated pens.

Even though ringworm is not a life threatening disease, it should be controlled and prevented. Here are some ways to try to protect and prevent ringworm from spreading.

    1. Shear and wash show lambs as little as possible.
    2. Do not show sheep with lesions unless infected area is healed and wool is growing back in that area.
    3. Disinfect equipment with fungicide.
    4. Use protective gloves when handling sheep with lesions, especially during the scab stage.
    5. Scrub with a detergent solution after handling the sheep.
    6. If any question call your local veterinary.
    7. If lesions are noticed on a human call a family physician.

Symptoms

Treatment

Keep in mind that treatment may help in the healing process, but it is more important to reduce the likelihood of spreading the disease among your flock.

To start with one should begin by removing the wool for about 2 inches directly surrounding the ringworm spot. Remove the scab down to the skin by using a brush and soapy water. This allows you to get directly to the root of the problem. Ringworm can be then treated with fungus-killing medicines. Many disinfectants can be used, but none are actually approved by the FDA, therefore it is up to the owner and their discretion as to what will be used. Both topical and oral treatment can be administered which may help slow fungal growth (from 8-16 weeks down to 3 weeks), but this is not a cure for the disease. Treating with 7% iodine can be effective, but you have a good chance of staining the wool. Also one should soak the entire animal and not just the exact spot to be sure that the animal is fully treated.

To ensure the infection is contained one should thoroughly disinfect their equipment and isolate the infected sheep until the wool has grown back. It is very wise to avoid taking infected animals to shows and fairs. Treatment should be intensive and continued until all signs of infection are gone.

The web page http://www.utextension.utk.edu/ansci/ringworm_club_lamb_fungus.htm gives a list of products that can be used to soak their animals and their advantages as well as disadvantages.

Allowing the disease to run its course is really the only way to cure it.

Prevention

Prevention really is important and should begin with the isolation of new animals to the farm. Thirty days should be sufficient, but giving a whole body treatment with chlorohexadine before release is a great idea.

There are quite a few things to keep in mind to ensure that ringworm is not a continuous problem within your flock. Some things that are suggested are as follows:

Remember that this fungus is commonly transmitted through one animal to another by using infected equipment and direct contact. Equipment can actually remain a source of infection for up to four years, so it is very important to keep all equipment clean and all infected animals away from uninfected animals.

It is also important to remember that there are certain factors that make your sheep more susceptible to the ringworm infection.

 

Some good sources on the treatment and prevention of ringworm:

http://www.astdhpphe.org/infect/ringworm.html This site really deals with humans and infection, but it is great to keep in mind if you should catch the disease from your flock.

The University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension NF91-29 gives great advice. http://ianr.edu/pubs/animaldisease/nf29.html

The doctors are in. Two DVMs tell us all about the threat of Club Lamb Fungus Disease at http://www.ianr.unl.edu/PUBS/animaldisease/g1075.html

This page gives likely forms of transmission and how to stop it from affecting you. http://www.utextension.utk.edu/ansci/ringworm_club_lamb_fungus.html

http://www.cvmbs.colostate.edu/dlab/webdocs/ext_vet/cleon 15.html helps us diagnose and ringworm.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture helps define the problems associated with Club Lamb Fungus at http://www.pipevet.com/articles/Club_Lamb_Fungus.html

Other projects have been done on club lamb fungus. One such project is exhibited on the web at http://ag.ansc.purdue.edu/sheep/ANSC442/Semprojs/parasites/fungus.htm

 

ANIMAL SCIENCE 442: Shannon Muia, Dustan Dorrel, Kim Pohle