Ringworm is not a worm, and it is not a parasite. Ringworm is a highly contagious fungus that spreads among different types of animals, including wildlife, pets, livestock and humans. Raccoons can spread it, but not through their urine. Raccoons also are vectors of roundworm, which does spread through fecal matter.
Ringworm spreads as the skin and fur from an infected animal come into contact with those of a healthy one. Not all animals who come in contact with the ringworm fungus will develop an infection. Animals with healthy immune systems may be able to fight off the infection without showing any signs of illness. Ringworm most commonly occurs in young, old or sick animals. The skin infection's common signs include hair loss, dry and flaky or reddened skin, and itching. Ringworm can eventually turn into infection if the animal keeps scratching and clawing the affected area. Ringworm is diagnosed by skin scraping and examination of the fungus under a microscope. If you notice your animals are showing signs of ringworm, you will need to have them treated by your veterinarian, or the condition will continue to spread.
Raccoons, Ringworm and You
Ringworm, relatively common within the raccoon community, can spread ringworm to your pets and family members through contact with the raccoon or with the contaminated skin cells and hair that the raccoon has shed. You will have to keep your eye on raccoons you see from the local population and report to a local animal control authority if you see the appearance of sickness. Your local animal control offices will be able to help you deal with potentially sick or infectious raccoons in your area.
Ringworm and Urine
Ringworm is not spread by feces or urine. Raccoon urine cannot spread ringworm to other animals. Ringworm fungus is primarily located in the hair follicles and top layers of the infected animals skin. If your pet has been touching a raccoon with ringworm or spends a lot of time in areas where raccoons live, he may catch ringworm as a result of coming into contact with shed raccoon skin cells and hair that contain ringworm fungus. Contact with raccoon urine alone will not cause a creature to contract ringworm.
Don't confuse raccoon ringworm with raccoon roundworm. Raccoon roundworm is commonly mistakenly called raccoon ringworm, but it has nothing to do with ringworm. Raccoon roundworm is a highly infectious, highly dangerous disease that spreads through the feces and bodily fluids of infected raccoons. Raccoon roundworm causes neurological problems and even death in humans. You should never allow your pets or children to go anywhere near raccoon feces or bodily fluids -- not because of the risk of ringworm but because of the risk of roundworm.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.