The Herald Bulletin

July 23, 2013

Humane Society copes with ringworm bout

Shelter temporarily closed during treatment

By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin

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ANDERSON – It’s just one of those pesky realities of life, and lately, it’s the Madison County Humane Society’s turn. The shelter has been coping with ringworm, a fungal infection that affects the skin. Ringworm spreads easily, so the shelter closed its doors as soon as the problem was discovered.

“It is very contagious and it goes very quickly,” said Humane Society director Susan Schieve. “We have no idea where it came from.”Despite its name, there is no worm involved with ringworm. Dr. Allan Baker of Chesterfield Animal Hospital explained that ringworm is actually a fungal infection evidenced by circular, reddish lesions on the skin. He noted that cats can be carriers without exhibiting any lesions. The infection can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa.

“Our animals started showing spots. Employees started showing spots,” said Lauren Caldwell, co-manager of the nonprofit facility. The shelter closed its doors July 12.Although the doors are closed, there’s plenty going on inside.“We washed every single animal,” said Schieve. Every lesion is treated and covered. Animals are not being allowed to come into contact with each other. The facility itself is getting completely wiped down with bleach.“We’re cleaning every crack and every crevice we can get to,” said Caldwell. “We’ve even bleached all the outyards,” said Schieve. She noted that it’s routine to wash the bedding every day anyway. “We are extremely clean.”Although the shelter is keeping the problem contained, the infection still managed to spread to most of the dogs, and many of the cats housed there. The shelter is currently housing 41 dogs and 73 cats, and none are being released for adoption until the problem is cleared up.The infection has an incubation period of about 10 to 14 daysDespite all their best efforts, all but one of the eight full-time staff members got the infection as well.

The infection can be treated in a number of ways including topical or oral antifungal medications, as well as several over-the-counter medications. Sometimes shampoos are used on animals.Eventually, the decision was made to treat all of the animals. With the exception of some very tiny puppies and their mother, Schieve said, “We have every animal on the preventive.”It’s an expensive operation, though. The medication alone is costing the shelter $800. That figure does not take into account all the extra cleaning supplies including ample stores of bleach and rubber gloves. It also does not account for things like bedding and towels that now need replacement. Schieve acknowledged that the staff has gone above and beyond during the ordeal. “They’ve worked hard.” “It is a nightmare,” Caldwell said. “We’re tired, but we’re getting through it. We’re a pretty close-knit team.” She said they’ve even managed to laugh about it.This is not the first time Madison County has seen this sort of problem. “This is not an uncommon issue. It hits off and on and has for years,” said Dr. Baker. “It’s just the reality of life. Whenever you have a lot of animals together, the potential is there for these kinds of things to rear their ugly heads. ... This is part of it when you deal with animals. It’s not earth shattering.” The Humane Society will assess the situation, and may reopen early next week. In the meantime, the shelter welcomes donations that can be made via Paypal, credit card, or by mailing a check to Madison County Humane Society, 2219 Crystal St., Anderson, IN 46012. Check the Madison County Humane Society Facebook page for more information, visit, or call 765-644-6484.

Like Nancy Elliott on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @ NancyElliott_HB, or call 640-4805.

You can help What: Fundraiser car wash for the Madison County Humane Society hosted by Ernie's Heart Pet Food Pantry and Attention 2 Detail Where: Attention 2 Detail parking lot at Sixth Street and Scatterfield Road (next to Gene's Root Beer) When: Saturday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. More info: Funds raised will go toward MCHS's $800 medication expenses to treat ringworm. Donations can also be made directly to MCHS via Paypal, credit card or check.Visit, or call 765-644-6484 for more information.