RINGWORM, ANIMAL, HUMAN - CANADA: (ONTARIO) ANIMAL EUTHANASIA
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International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Mon 10 May 2010
Source: The Globe and Mail [edited]
About 350 animals will be euthanized at the York Region SPCA [Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] this week [week of 10 May
2010] after officials failed to contain an outbreak of ringworm that
had been festering for the past few weeks.
That's the entire population of animals at the Toronto-area animal
shelter, which has now been closed, said Kate MacDonald, chief
executive officer of the Ontario SPCA.
"Over the ensuing weeks, we've done what we can to contain the
outbreak," she said. "It hasn't worked. We're in a scenario now where
the outbreak itself is severe enough that 2 of our veterinarians have
determined it will sadly be necessary to euthanize the animals in the
The animals will be euthanized in the coming days, she said, and the
shelter has already been closed. It will likely reopen by next week
[week of 17 May 2010] after the shelter is sterilized completely.
"Euthanasia is always a last resort," she said. "If there was anything
else we could do, we were doing it."
Ringworm is contagious among humans and highly contagious among
animals. Such outbreaks are very rare, Ms. MacDonald said.
[Byline: Sarah Boesveld]
Date: Tue 11 May 2010
Source: The Globe and Mail [edited]
The chairman of the Ontario SPCA (OSPCA) has promised an investigation
into the outbreak of ringworm that is forcing a Newmarket shelter to
kill hundreds of animals.
Rob Godfrey said there will be also be a review of the OSPCA's
operations so the deadly outbreak is not repeated. "We understand that
people out there are emotional and outraged at the idea of an animal's
life being ended and Š I share it with them."
The OSPCA's decision to euthanize many of the animals in the shelter
has sparked an outcry from politicians, other animal care
organizations, and members of the public.
Mr Godfrey said one reason the infection got out of hand was that
"protocols" for identifying contagious conditions were not followed.
When widespread signs of ringworm appeared a few weeks ago, animals
were not immediately isolated as they should have been. A manager of
the shelter has been fired as a result, he said.
However, Mr Godfrey said, while better practices might have mitigated
the situation, they likely would not have stopped the spread of the
infection entirely. "This is such an extraordinary strain of ringworm
that we can't say that even following those protocols would have
prevented this altogether," he said. The "particularly vicious strain"
is highly contagious and spreads quickly, he added.
With 6 workers in the shelter also infected, the OSPCA's veterinary
advisers said the outbreak was so bad that most of the animals had to
be put down to insure that more animals and people do not catch the
virulent fungal infection.
Still, not all of the 350 animals in the shelter will be euthanized,
Mr Godfrey said. About 20 animals that are less severely infected have
been identified and will be put into isolation at other vets' offices.
Kate MacDonald, chief executive officer of the OSPCA, said the killing
of the animals, which began Tuesday [11 May 2010], was
"heart-wrenching" but had to be done. About 60 dogs are at the
shelter, while most of the rest of the animals are cats, with a few
other species such as rabbits on the premises.
Shock over the decision spread to Queen's Park Tuesday [11 May 2010],
where Newmarket-Aurora MPP [member of the provincial parliament] Frank
Klees demanded that the government stop the killing. Mr Klees said he
wanted assurances that all other options would be investigated. "I
believe it is imperative that we take the time necessary to deal with
this matter in a humane and rational manner," he said in a letter to
Rick Bartolucci, the minister of Community Safety and Correctional
Mr Bartolucci told reporters that he has full confidence in the OSPCA
and he believes the decision was not made lightly, but is in the best
interest of the animals and the people who work with them.
Mr Bartolucci's spokeswoman Laura Blondeau said the OSPCA is an arm's
length agency and the minister has no authority to interfere in its
A construction worker in Keswick, said he was shocked to find out that
a cat he had dropped off at the shelter several months ago was still
there, and might be euthanized. He had received the cat as a Christmas
present, but when his 9-year-old daughter showed signs of being
allergic to the pet, he reluctantly took it to the OSPCA for adoption.
He was upset that the cat might be killed when he thought it would be
in a new home by now. "I think it is crazy to do that," he said. "It
is a mass murder." [He] said he thought ringworm was treatable, and
can't believe the OSPCA won't go to the effort to try to stop the
infection without killing the animals. "It seems to me they are going
the cheaper route. Š I don't understand how it got to this."
Maureen Anderson, an infectious-disease expert at the University of
Guelph, said some strains of ringworm can be more easily transmitted
to animals or people, and sometimes the fungi that cause it may be
resistant to antifungal drugs.
Ringworm is treatable, she said on a university blog, "but it is not
cheap or easy. Animals typically require systemic therapy (usually
oral medication, which can be very expensive particularly in large
dogs) as well as whole-body topical therapy Š and they need to be
treated for several weeks."
Other animal care organizations said the OSPCA could have dealt with
the outbreak without killing the animals. The Durham region SPCA said
it has dealt with 2 major ringworm outbreaks in the past 10 years,
each of which involved more than 100 animals. They were difficult and
expensive to deal with, the group said in a statement, but "at no time
was there ever the thought of euthanizing all the animals."
The Toronto Humane Society (THS) also weighed in on the issue, saying
the OSPCA is taking "the easy solution rather than working to save
animals' lives." THS spokesman Ian McConachie said he is puzzled about
how an entire shelter could be infected with ringworm. Usually,
animals with suspected infections are isolated immediately and tested,
he said. "I don't know what protocol broke down, but something
happened." There needs to be a provincial investigation to make sure
it doesn't happen again, he said.
[Byline: Richard Blackwell]
[In dogs, approximately 70 percent of cases are caused by _Microsporum
canis_, 20 percent by _M. gypseum_, and 10 percent by _Trichophyton
mentagrophytes_; in cats, 98 percent are caused by _M. canis_.
The Wood's lamp is useful in establishing a tentative diagnosis of
dermatophytosis in dogs and cats but cannot be used to rule out this
type of infection. Definitive diagnosis is established by DTM
(dermatophyte test medium) culture. Detection of infection in
asymptomatic carrier animals is facilitated by brushing the coat with
a new toothbrush and then inoculating a culture plate by pressing the
bristles to the surface of the medium.
The clinical appearance of ringworm in cats is quite variable. Kittens
are affected most commonly. Typical lesions consist of focal alopecia,
scaling, and crusting; most are around the ears and face or on the
extremities. Cats with clinically inapparent infections can still
serve as a source of infection to other cats or people. Occasionally,
dermatophytosis in cats causes feline miliary dermatitis and is
pruritic. Cats with generalized dermatophytosis occasionally develop
cutaneous ulcerated nodules, known as dermatophyte granulomas or
Lesions in dogs are classically alopecic, scaly patches with broken
hairs. Dogs may also develop regional or generalized folliculitis and
furunculosis with papules and pustules. A focal nodular form of
dermatophytosis in dogs is the kerion reaction. Generalized ringworm
in adult dogs is uncommon and is usually accompanied by
immunodeficiency, especially endogenous or iatrogenic
hyperadrenocorticism. Differential diagnoses in dogs for classic
ringworm lesions include demodicosis, bacterial folliculitis, and
Dermatophytosis in dogs and shorthaired cats is usually self-limiting,
but resolution can be hastened by treatment. Another primary objective
of therapy is to prevent spread of infection to other animals and
people. However, whole-body topical therapy is controversial, and
recent studies have not confirmed that any currently available topical
rinse or shampoo is truly effective. Enilconazole, a rinse not
currently available in North America, is most likely to be effective.
Local lesions can be treated effectively with topical miconazole or
clotrimazole. For chronic or severe cases and for ringworm in
longhaired breeds of cats, systemic treatment is indicated. The
microsized formulation of griseofulvin can be used in dogs (25-100
mg/kg, sid (once a day) or divided doses) and in cats (25-50 mg/kg,
daily in divided doses). These dosages are higher than those approved
by the FDA. The ultramicrosized formulations used in human medicine
can be used at lower dosages (10-15 mg/kg). Cats may develop bone
marrow suppression, especially neutropenia, at higher doses or as
idiosyncratic reactions. In both dogs and cats, GI upset is a fairly
common sequela of griseofulvin administration. Alternative and
effective treatments include terbinafine (30 mg/kg) or itraconazole
(5-10 mg/kg, sid), but neither of these drugs is approved for use in
domestic animals. Systemic and topical treatments for dermatophytosis
should be continued for 2-4 weeks past clinical cure or until a
negative brush culture is obtained. This may require treatment for 1-3
months with griseofulvin or for more than 1 month with azole
antifungals. A killed fungal cell wall vaccine is approved for
treatment and prevention of _M. canis_ ringworm in cats. The vaccine
hastens clinical resolution but apparently does not affect time to
mycologic cure. It also reduces the severity, but not the frequency,
of infection in kittens that are subsequently exposed. Use of the
vaccine in management of dermatophytosis in pet cats or multicat
facilities remains to be defined. Recent reports of the efficacy of
lufenuron in treating ringworm in dogs and cats have not been
confirmed in controlled studies.
While all of these treatments have varying degrees of effects, an old
treatment not mentioned here is betadine (an iodine preparation)
scrub. While it may be a bit labor intensive to wash all the animals
in betadine, it could prevent the euthanasia of a large number of
It seems somehow out of place for the name of the agency to be the
society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, yet be euthanizing
such a large number of animals. While some may argue that it may be
humane to do this, one has to wonder since the disease can be
self-limiting, why euthanasia is the only answer here? - Mod.TG]
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