Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 5:53 am | Overcast 52º


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Testing Confirms Ringworm Outbreak at Santa Maria Animal Shelter

Animals are being treated and quarantined to help control the fungal infection outbreak, while staff are wearing protective clothing

County Health officials confirmed that ringworm is the cause of the skin disease outbreak at the Santa Maria Animal Center.
County Health officials confirmed that ringworm is the cause of the skin disease outbreak at the Santa Maria Animal Center.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Preliminary test results have confirmed ringworm is the cause of the skin rash outbreak that has led to partial temporary closure of the Santa Maria Animal Center.

Santa Barbara County Animal Services officials said the outbreak affecting dogs and people involves the disease caused by a fungus.

Laboratory cultures for some of the affected animals tested positive for microsporum canis which is commonly known as ringworm, officials said. Despite its name, it does not involve worms.

“The personal well-being of our staff and volunteers remains as our highest priority, along with the well-being of the animals in our care,” county officials said.

“All affected people have been advised to see their physician for appropriate treatment. Fungal infections are easily treated when diagnosed.”

The outbreak has not affected the county’s shelters in Santa Barbara or Lompoc.

However, veterinarians have reported an increase in treating animals with skin conditions in their private practice clinics, Animal Services officials said.

“This is not surprising given that the fungus thrives in hot and humid areas and we have had some uncharacteristic weather lately,” Animal Services officials said on Facebook.

Pet owners who notice any rash or hair loss on their animals should consult their veterinarian. 

Additionally, people who develop a rash should consult their physician. 

Animals with an unknown rash should not be taken to public places like the dog park, groomers, or to interact with others until a veterinarian has deemed the animal free of infection.

Since discovering the outbreak, shelter staff has taken multiple actions including notifying possibly affected people and animals with calls to adopters and animal rescue organizations to advise of the outbreak affecting the shelter on West Foster Road.

County officials also called veterinarians in the Santa Maria and Lompoc areas to advise them of the outbreak, emailed Santa Barbara County Animal Services volunteers and staff, conducted meetings with staff and issued press releases.

To contain the outbreak, the dog kennels are quarantined and only specific staff and volunteers can enter and must wear protective clothing.

Affected animals have been placed in designating kennel rooms, while any dogs with visible lesions administered anti fungal treatment.

All dogs housed at the Santa Maria Animal Center are receiving antifungal dip treatment twice weekly and the public spay and neuter and vaccination clinics have been temporarily suspended.

Staff also has undertaken extensive cleaning and sanitization procedures.

Animal Services officials are consulting a veterinary dermatologist to help manage the outbreak and treatment. 

Treatment of affected animals at the Santa Maria Animal Center will continue and county officials pledge to update the public on the status of the outbreak. 

Animal Services reminds owners to ensure their pet is wearing a license and proper identification so that lost pets can be quickly reunited with owners and avoid them entering the shelter.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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