All horses with suspected or confirmed ringworm should be treated as highly contagious to both people and other horses. Strict isolation procedures must therefore be adhered to. Management involves 2 basic principles:
(1) Treatment of active infection and reduction of spore formation
(2) Elimination of infective spores in the environment
Although most fungal infections in horses are self-limiting, treatment will limit the spread of infection. Ringworm affects people, thus gloves and protective clothing should be worn by horse handlers.
- Scale, broken hairs and scurf are heavily laden with fungal spores and individual lesions should be scraped down to the skin surface
- Topical treatment is effective at preventing the progression of established lesions and limits spore production. Affected horses should be bathed with an antifungal shampoo (Coatex) and individual lesions sprayed or wiped with enilconazole (Imaverol)
- More severe cases should be treated with oral griseofulvin (eg. administered via nasogastric tube in 5L milk)
- All tack, rugs, stable and grooming equipment must be restricted to individual horses and sterilised regularly by washing in a fungicidal or sporicidal disinfectant (Virkon orTrigene)
- Foot dips outside stable (Virkon or Trigene)
- Personnel to wear different clothing when handling affected horses (eg boiler suit over normal clothing) and gloves must be worn
- All skin debris and hairs removed from infected horses, as well as all bedding removed from the stable, should be burnt
- No contact with other horses
- Do not clip until the infection has resolved
- Environmental limitation of fungal spores with regular antifungal disinfectant washes or fogging of stable and flooring (Virkon or Trigene)
Pilsworth R.C. and Knottenbelt D. (2007) Dermatophytosis (ringworm). Equine Vet Educ 19(3) 151-154.