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Eliminating ringworm spores from the home

Winn grant W12-034
Decontamination of household textiles exposed to Microsporum canis spores
Investigator: Karen A. Moriello; University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ringworm is a superficial fungal skin disease that affects all animals, including cats. In cats, the most commonly isolated pathogen is Microsporum canis. This disease is important because it is highly contagious to cats and transmitted to people making it a public health concern. Ringworm can infect any cat, but the most commonly infected are the most adoptable (kittens and juveniles), old cats with other illnesses, and cats in animal shelters or rescue organizations. This skin disease is curable but treatment can be challenging because diseased cats shed large amounts of infective material (spores and infected hairs) into the environment. Effective cleaning is necessary to prevent spore contamination of the environment and prevent cats from becoming re-infected or “dust mop carriers”. Information on effective cleaning of hard surfaces (walls, counters, etc.) is available, but no evidence-based information is available for household textiles-fabric, clothing, carpeting, etc.

Microscopic view of M. canis

The purpose of this study is to determine the efficacy of decontamination options for household textiles (e.g., towels, fabric, and carpet) with a goal of identifying safe and effective practices. Common household textiles will be experimentally contaminated with naturally infective material and the following cleaning techniques tested: washing in cold or hot water with or without bleach pre-soaking, vacuuming rugs at different lengths of time, rental carpet cleaners, and high pressure/high temperature commercial cleaning of carpets. This study will determine which of these techniques are excellent, adequate, marginal or unsatisfactory for decontamination. Information will be immediately useful for people treating cats with ringworm.

This project is available for sponsorship. When you sponsor a project, your name will be added to the list of the project’s supporters on our website and in any publications we produce about the project. You will receive exclusive pre-publication reports on the progress of your chosen project as they become available, and a final report at its conclusion.