Ringworm circles London
By Sara Marett
An outbreak of ringworm disease at London's Humane Society has affected not only hundreds of animals but Western students as well.
Although physically untouched by the disease, students of Western's Humane Society club have been affected by the euthanization of over 200 animals infected with ringworm.
"The purpose of the Humane Society Club at Western is to provide students with the opportunity to volunteer with the animals at the shelter and now that may not be possible," said Shauna Parr, president of the club.
"We are really affected by the outbreak of the disease because it may mean our new members won't be able to complete an orientation session at the shelter which they must do before volunteering with the animals," she added.
The outbreak meant the shelter had to close from Dec. 19 to Jan. 14.
"I don't think the members will be able to complete the orientation session this year and I think there is a sense of frustration within the club because of this," Parr said.
Club member Brett Perkins said he is disappointed he may not get to work with animals at the shelter. "I am more concerned, though, about what happened to the infected animals," he said.
Sheilagh Pang, executive director at London's Humane Society, said if a case of ringworm is discovered in an animal, the normal procedure to prevent the spread of the disease is euthanization. The shelter stopped adoption of animals as soon as they discovered a case of ringworm in one animal and one staff member.
Since the outbreak, staff at the shelter have reviewed the procedure of handling the incoming animals in order to prevent the spread of infection. "Any animals presently coming into the shelter are bathed in an anti-fungal shampoo as soon as they arrive," Pang said.
The disease can be spread among animals simply by breathing the same air, but between humans it is spread through physical contact, Pang said. "Once we discovered one animal was infected, we knew the rest had been exposed to the disease." Over 200 animals and 10 of the 20 staff members were infected when the decision was made to close the shelter.
"At this point, the Board of Directors had to make the unfortunate decision [of euthanization] concerning the infected animals," Pang said. "It was a sad decision, but there wasn't a realistic alternative."
"I think the Board of Directors made the appropriate decision because the facility was not capable of separating the animals in order to prevent spreading the disease," Parr said. The alternative to euthanization was adoption of the animals by the community which would put the community at risk of exposure of the disease.