Last summer my daughter sent her cow to a ranch to be bred. When we picked her up she had goop weeping out of her eye. I assumed she had picked up pink eye so we treated her accordingly. When it was time for us to leave for camp she seemed to be healed up so we decided to put her out in the pasture which contained the sheep, goats, and a few ponies. This would make chores easier while we were away and it made sense. At working ranch horse camp there was a lot of talk of Elizabeth’s cow. They had used her in a previous camp to demonstrate dehorning techniques and other such things; and it was decided that Marissa would pick the cow up while she was in town so the kids could preg test her. When she arrived at the camp I noticed a bald patch on her side. When I looked closer I realized that she had ringworm. It turns out that the pink eye I had treated had been an aggravated case of ring worm by her eye and I had totally missed it. Anyone who knows me knows that I have an enormous amount of critters at my place at any given time. We have 15 horses and ponies, about 12 goats, and at least six sheep, not counting the smaller stuff and babies. By putting the cow in the pasture for a day and a half I worried that I had exposed the whole pasture full of animals. But as I checked and rechecked I began to think we would be ok. My daughter treated her cow and did not head my warning about wearing gloves. She had contracted the nasty fungus. So as we struggled with iodine, Vaseline and bandages (for my daughter so she could go to work) I relaxed my vigil on the animals in the pasture. One day while out doing chores I was greeted by one of the foals at the gate. He had a perfectly round bald patch on his face. I cussed a blue streak and pulled him out of the pasture. I go the supplies and treated him. I found several other patches of ringworm on him and treated him as well. We had an empty pasture and we moved all of the affected ponies and the cow up the hill where I treated their spots daily. There was fast progress with some of the horses but the cow’s spots were stubborn as was the spots on one of the pony foals. In consulting with our vet, who lived quite a ways away from us, she suggested trying some over the counter antifungal cream for humans as that would be cheaper than her driving out to assist. I bought out the store and went to work. Sure enough it worked. The ring worm was healing and I thought I was in the clear. If only! I was feeding horses in the big pasture and discovered a spot on one of the horses. I panicked and pulled every single horse and pony out of the pasture and checked them from head to toe. I was surprised that the fungus had found its way from one pasture to another. Only five of the ten had small spots but I didn’t even mess around I applied the antifungal cream immediately then slathered them with iodine and Vaseline. They healed rather quickly and it only took a few applications but I haven’t seen a case of ringworm for many months. I hope that since the fungus thrives on warm moist conditions that it doesn’t flare up again once the weather warms up. As spring comes around and the warmth in the air is more prevalent I will be watching for the signs of a flare up. I have always known that ringworm was a zoonotic disease in that it will live on any host with skin. I had never seen it in such a large population until it hit our farm. I did everything right by isolating the affected animals and still we were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task of treating and containing the fungus. If there is a next time I hope we can be lucky to contain it before it gets out of hand. I also hope my daughter learned her lesson in that when mom says gloves are necessary she needs to use them. Ringworm is a fast spreading fungus that takes time to detect in an animal with hair. It will sneak up on you when you least expect it and if they have been exposed an animal will most likely contract it. So use diligence when dealing with this fungus and don’t mess around or it will get out of control fast. I am just glad it is over and hope I don’t have to deal with it again.
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