How to keep you and your pet safe from ringworm

HOUSTON – Since Hurricane Harvey, the Houston Humane Society said it's seen an increase of ringworm that really hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.

It's one of few illnesses that can be passed back and forth between people, pets and the surfaces you touch.

The fungal infection is not actually a worm, but can appear in circular shapes and can actually spread from humans to pets and vice versa. 

According to the CDC, it causes:

itchy skin
ring-shaped rash
red, scaly, cracked skin
hair loss

"With our climate and with it always being kind of warm and humid in Houston, it's something we battle year-round and we see kind of a large, outbreak of it in the spring and summer months," Monica Schmidt with Houston Humane Society said.

To protect your pets:

Make sure it is seen by a veterinarian so treatment can be started. If one of your pets has ringworm, make sure you check every pet in the household.

"It's very itchy and uncomfortable so you do want to treat it as quickly as possible. It can spread, so we've had animals come in that you know 1/2 to 3/4 of their body in really aggressive cases can be covered in ringworm," Schmidt said.

The CDC said, your veterinarian may prescribe antifungal shampoos, creams, dips or pills. During this time, the pet should be handled as little as possible until the infection is cleared.

Vacuuming areas that pets commonly visit can help. then be sure to:

Wash your bed sheets and clothes every day while you are infected.
Keep your skin clean and dry.
Apply drying powders, lotions, or creams.
Wash your hands with soap and running water after playing with or petting your pet.

Ringworm is worst for people and animals with compromised immune systems. The young and old are most vulnerable.

It is easier and more affordable to treat it quickly and early versus waiting until there are secondary issues going on.