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UPDATE: Ringworm behind itchy skin disease at Santa Maria animal shelter

Santa Barbara County

UPDATE: October 22, 2015 at 10:25 a.m.

Ringworm is showing up with greater frequency in the Santa Barbara County pet population, according to local veterinarians who say they're seeing an increase in treating the skin condition in their private practice clinics.

On Tuesday morning, Santa Barbara County Public Health said test results now show ringworm is also behind the itchy skin disease that was spreading at a county animal facility earlier this month.

"Preliminary test results have been received for the fungal disease outbreak that is affecting dogs and people at the Santa Maria Animal Center," County Health said in a statement Thursday morning.  "Laboratory cultures for some of the affected animals have tested positive for microsporumcanis which is commonly known as ringworm."


Doctors believe they've determined the cause of an itchy skin disease spreading through the Santa Maria Animal Center that's affecting both pets and humans. 

Santa Barbara County Animal Services says it's likely a form of the fungal infection known as ring worm.

Director Jan Glick says her department is is working to keep the condition from spreading and to clear it up as quickly as possible.

The Animal Center is treating all 89 dogs currently being held there, regardless of whether they are showing signs of the condition.

Glick says they're working on ways to keep the pets from going "kennel crazy" during this period by developing some behavior enrichment activities.

"I think we probably are able to take them outside, just not together," said Glick. "We should be able to help their mental health while we go through this and we're working on a plan for that right now."

If the condition has been properly diagnosed, the soonest visitors may be allowed back into the Center would be about two weeks following successful treatments. There are about a dozen workers who will also need to undergo treatment, which the Director says involves some over-the-counter ointment.

Once the Center is again open for adoptions, they're hoping the public will return quickly so that many of the dogs can find a loving home.