Dermatophytosis or commonly known as ringworm is caused by a fungus and is not associated with a rabbit having worms. Ringworm can affect many different types of animals and even humans. The fungus that causes ringworm in rabbits is usually a variety known as Trichophyton.
Ringworm in rabbits is uncommon but can be transferred from the fungi spores from objects or from other animals to rabbits. This infectious fungus can live for months in the environment and can be transmitted through contact and from the air. A ringworm lesion will have a ring or round appearance with hair loss in the surrounding area of the lesion. The infected area may appear as a sore that is dry and may be crusted over.
The legs, feet and head are the most common areas on a rabbit where ringworms are found. Owners may notice their rabbit scratching at the sores. Younger rabbits and those housed in groups are more susceptible to acquiring skin conditions such as ringworm. rabbits that are kept indoors with other pets are at higher risk also for ringworm.
Identification of skin scrapings, fluorescence (UV light), and reaction staining are all methods to determine ringworm by vet.
The hair around the lesion should be clipped, and disposed off safely.
The best treatment for fungal dermatitis is oral administration of griseofulvin (25-50 mg/kg PO q24h or divided q12h). (Wear gloves while administering this drug). The treatment should continue two weeks after the disappearance of the clinical signs.
Topical or systemic treatments are also possible:
• Clotrimazole cream or lotion;
• Enilconazole spray;
• Itraconazole (5-10 mg/PO, q 24 h);
• Terbinafine (8-20 mg/kg PO, q24h);
• Ketoconazole (10-15 mg/kg PO q 24h) (not to be used in breeding animals);
• Miconazole cream.
Most of the available products are unlicensed for use in rabbits; literature references, however, assert those drugs are the treatments of choice for fungal dermatitis in rabbits.The environment of the rabbit should be cleaned carefully: vacuum cleaning, boiling of towels and cleaning of surfaces with 1:10 bleach water.
Prevention of Spreading During Treatment
Keeping the environment clean is an important element to keeping a rabbit free from diseases and skin conditions such as ringworm. If your rabbit has been diagnosed with ringworm, a thorough cleaning of the rabbit's environment with bleach and water will need to be done. The rabbit's cage and anything else that the rabbit has come in contact with will need cleaned and sanitized.
If an infected rabbit is housed indoors, this cleaning process will include floors and carpets.
When vacuuming has been completed, the vacuum bags need to be disposed of immediately. Any clothes that an owner has worn will need sanitized along with grooming tools and the rabbit's bedding. These spores can be transmitted through the air so owners will need to replace air conditioning filters. Any areas of the home that a house rabbit has been roaming should be sanitized from top to bottom including furniture and window treatments.
If owners notice that one pet (cat, dog, rabbit etc.) has ringworm, that pet should be kept quarantined until the ringworm has been fully treated. Fully sanitize the environment that all pets are housed in and watch for lesions that may appear on pets that have not been affected yet. Prevention is important to keep ringworm from spreading from one pet to another or to the humans caring for the pets.