Chapter 8: Managing Ringworm in a Foster Home or Private Home

Daily cleaning will minimize the amount of environmental contamination that builds up while affected animals are housed there. In addition, thorough cleaning will be needed after the affected animals have left the environment (or recovered). This will be much easier if animals are limited to a small area of the house that has minimal furniture and carpeting (e.g. a large dog crate, bathroom). This is particularly critical until the first two weeks of effective topical treatment have been completed, and ideally until at least one negative fungal culture has been obtained.

Cleaning the Home Environment in the Event of a Ringworm Infection

Daily:

  • All non-porous surfaces should be damp mopped, Swiffered® and/or vacuumed (to gather up infectious hairs) and disinfected with bleach or Accel. This includes floors, walls, countertops, windowsills, and carriers.
  • Rugs should be vacuumed twice daily. Vacuum cleaner bags should be regularly discarded.
  • Bedding and protective clothing should be changed daily, and laundered separately in hot water with a quarter cup of bleach and dried in a dryer (or discarded).

After affected animals have been cleared out, follow the five Ds as previously described in Environmental Cure: the 5 D’s. The extent to which extensive cleaning will be necessary depends on the level of environmental contamination. If kittens romped through the house for some time before diagnosis, or an effective topical treatment was not used consistently, extensive efforts may be required. If, on the other hand, the cat was kept reasonably confined to a cleanable area and effectively treated from the outside, basic cleaning may be adequate.

Some Steps to Consider Include:

  • All exposed animals should be tested for ringworm as described above to make sure they are not sub-clinically affected.
  • All exposed bedding, toys, brushes, etc. should be laundered/dried or discarded.
  • All non-porous surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected where possible with bleach (1:32 dilution) or Accel/Rescue®. This should be repeated at least twice. If bleach is used, it must be applied to a pre-cleaned surface and be rinsed off after sufficient contact time (at least 10 minutes of wet contact).
  • All exposed carpets and furniture should be vacuumed daily for one week, and the vacuum cleaner bags discarded daily.
  • All heating and cooling vents should be vacuumed or filters replaced. It is not usually necessary to have ducts commercially cleaned.
  • Carpets should be commercially steam cleaned. Steam cleaning with cleaners that use hot tap water is ineffective, as the water does not reach a high enough temperature.
  • Clothing that was worn when in contact with the cats should be washed in hot water with bleach, then dried in a dryer or by hanging in sunlight.
  • Environmental cultures should be performed to verify success of decontamination prior to re-opening the foster home to new animals.