Module 13: Intro to Dermatophytes

Module 13.1: Introduction to Dermatophytes

Intro to Dermatophytes

Dermatophytes are a group of cutaneous fungi transmitted to animals by direct contact with arthrospores usually through a superficial wound from contact with another animal (zoophilic), in the environment (geophilic), and those adapted from a human host (anthropophilic).

These infections are found worldwide and more commonly observed in younger or immunocompromised animals. On the animal, dermatophytes infect keratinized structures (stratum corneum, hair, and nails) resulting in most commonly in hair loss, plaque lesions, and hyperkeratosis (thickening of the skin).  In people, these lesions result in a red rash forming a “ring” thus the common name for this disease is “ringworm”.

Cat with dermatophyte infection
Dermatophyte Infection

In veterinary medicine, there are 3 genera of dermatophytes of medical importance including:

  • Microsporum spp.
  • Trichophyton sp.
  • Epidermophyton sp.

From those 3 genera, there are three species of veterinary significance in small animals and large animals.

Table 13.1: Dermatophytes of Veterinary Significance



Major source

Common hosts

Fun facts

Microsporum gypseum
Geophilic Saprophytic in the soil of warm and humid climates Dogs and cats Challenging to control because it is ubiquitous in the environment
Microsporum canis
Zoophilic Cats Dogs and cats The most common cause of dermatophytosis in small animals. Can be found on cats without clinical disease
Trichophyton mentagrophytes
Zoophilic Rodents All species Rodent control is an important aspect of prevention and control

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