PetSmart Guinea Pig Carries Ringworm to Family

RingwormImage courtesy of The Record

Leann Gross applies a cream to the face of her son Matthew after he contracted Ringworm from their guinea pig.

The Gross family of Kitchener, Ontario, were so excited to bring home their new pet guinea pig in mid-October. Molly, the name given to their new pet, was rarely out of the hands of their three children Matthew, 8, Jonathan, 5, and Caitlyn, 2.

The next day, Leann Gross, noticed a patch of missing hair about the size of a quarter on their cavy. She called PetSmart and was instructed to bring the guinea pig back to the store for a veterinary check-up. Molly was found to have Ringworm and returned to the store.

A week later, Leann and David Gross found a spot on their son Matthew’s back. Their family doctor confirmed Ringworm. More spots began to appear and each one needed to be treated with a steroid cream to keep them from spreading. They also found patches on the family dog and both the dog and cat were treated and isolated while their house was disinfected.

PetSmart is not commenting while they’re looking into the situation. There are policies and procedures in place to ensure their animals do not pose a safety risk although it is unknown at this time where the Ringworm came from.

PetSmart guinea pigs come from large breeders that ship the young cavies once they reach a certain size around 3 months of age. While the guinea pigs are on display in the store, employees handle them daily. PetSmart guests can request holding a guinea pig as well.

Ringworm is an infection caused by a fungus and can be carried by people and animals. It can be transferred quite easily by touch and can be spread by sharing towels, combs, drinking containers and other personal items. Regular hand washing is the best prevention. Ringworm appears as itchy, red, scaly patches, sometimes in a ring shape. It can affect skin, hair and nails all over the body.

Treatment for Ringworm in guinea pigs usually involves oral medication and shampoo. Sometimes creams are used but it is unlikely because the cavy can too easily lick it off. If you think your guinea pig may have Ringworm, you should seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Ringworm is not a disease exclusive to guinea pigs. While some like to stress that this case of Ringworm came from a guinea pig, this no way implies that guinea pigs and Ringworm somehow go hand in hand. When it comes to Ringworm, guinea pigs are no more a danger to you or your family than another person or pet.

Source: The Record


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Angela, Editor-in-Chief, GPT

Angela founded Guinea Pig Today and guest writes for CavyMadness. She volunteers with Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue and supports the ROUS Foundation. Her guinea pig, Papua, is the star of WHEK-TV/DT.

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Comments
13 Responses to “PetSmart Guinea Pig Carries Ringworm to Family”
  1. In France (I’m french), it’s quite common to have guinea pigs with ringworm from pet shops. It’s almost surprising to NOT find one with ringworm… In Denmark (where I live), I’ve never seen any pet shop piggy with fungus or parasites. I guess they have different policies, while in France animals are sold in shops like objects and nobody cares if they are sick, dying, pregnant or too young.

  2. The same problem is over here in the UK with a large chain of pet shops that shall remain nameless. It is sad for both the guineas and the humans, not to mention the fact that it spreads so easily from animal to human, human to animal, animal to animal and human to human:(

    I’m surprised that a steroid cream was prescribed as its use may worsen the infection and make the fungus more likely to spread into the hair follicles. Usually an anti-fungal cream is all that is required.

    Chrissie & 4 Gorgeous Guineas

  3. Sally says:

    A quarter sized patch of missing fur did not happen overnight. This guinea pig must have had obvious signs of ringworm before it was sold at the pet store. It’s too bad the new owners didn’t carefully check over the guinea pig before they purchased it, but shame on the pet store for selling an infected animal.

  4. Pam says:

    Too bad the family didn’t keep Molly and get veterinary treatment for her. I’m quite sure that returning her to the store was a death sentence.

  5. Becky Wilson says:

    Having treated many rescue guinea pigs that have come to me with ringworm and other fungus , I don’t worry quite as much about catching it as some might. I have never been infected myself. I do always treat the infected guinea pigs last and put on a clean top ,then lather my arms up to my elbows. It is important that the cage be kept very clean and dry. I’ve seen the condition clear up in two weeks and I’ve had guinea pigs that the vet had to throw everything in his arsenal at (3 months to clear). It will most often appear around their nose,eyes or the kissy place behind their ears where they don’t have a lot of hair, then spreads from there. No one likes to hear their pet and now child has ringworm, but it is treatable even if it does sound a bit gross.

  6. Sarah D. says:

    I think way to big a deal was made out of this…kids can actually bring ringworm home from school and give it to family pets as well.not saying this is the case here but I agree with another poster that steroids only lower the immune system and can make it worse.ringworm is only as big of a deal as someone makes it.this didn’t belong in the paper.my goodness…..

  7. Alena Loiselle says:

    Our boy Mingus was bought at another big pet store chain in the U.S., (not Petsmart, the other one) and he seemed to be very jumpy and itchy and didn’t like to be petted on his back. We took him to the vet and sure enough it was ringworm. We contacted the pet store, who would only take him back and refund our money. We know that this is, indeed, a death sentence, so we said no and asked them to look into the problem. I have not heard anything else about ringworm going around at the time so hopefully this was just one case. Well, happily we did not contract it and (many $$$ and pet visits later) Mingus ended up a healthy, happy cavy.

  8. Kim Hartley says:

    “We know that this is, indeed, a death sentence, so we said no and asked them to look into the problem.”

    I know it has been several months since the last person posted, but I just wanted to write a comment defending the large pet stores against all this “death sentence” nonsense. I worked for “the other one” for over a year and we ourselves had a ringworm outbreak (which was actually spread from a customer’s untreated dog to one of the managers to the male piggies) which resulted in two guinea pig returns for treatment, (one return with the intention of picking back up, one complete relinquishment) and several times a day checking the other piggies and removing the ones that showed signs of dry skin/hair loss etc. Within 15 days of purchase the store could refund the money, seek vet attention, and carry out the month long antifungal treatment, then have the owner repurchase the guinea pig after the vet gave a clear bill of health. If the owner wasn’t interested in taking custody of the pig again, we would adopt it out to a new owner at half the cost, and the money would be donated to local animal rescues and grant funds for the rescues. Each vet visit cost us more than 100 dollars for each pig, and we went way over our spending budget during that time, but the pigs needed medicine, so that’s what they got. No one ever, ever viewed euthanization as even a remote option. We may have worn gloves, but those piggies were cuddled and given treats and were swabbed with antifungal medicine twice a day. Euthanization is something that sadly we had to go to the vets for from time to time, especially for hamsters with wet tail who didn’t respond to the antibiotics, but only if the vet said that there was no chance the animal could live a happy and fulfilled life. We had a guinea pig whom we named Delilah who had repeated seizures and could no longer eat, drink, or lift her head and we were feeding with an eyedropper several times a day for two weeks until we saw that she was steadily worsening. That was very difficult for several of my coworkers who had gotten attached.

    It is very easy to feel better than someone else, or better than a group of people… Feel that you can order them around and that they should be glad that someone who knows better decided to inform them of something they .obviously. never heard of before. Very few people really view those who work in retail as equals, but it makes me so upset when people so very casually malign others without any real evidence or proof, as if it were common knowledge that oh yes, large pet store chains got to where they are by being the kind of business that murders animals with skin conditions. Yes, the cages we sold are too small for two adult cavies, and the treats we sell do have sugar and seeds which are appealing to humans moreso than safe for guineas, but I found myself begging and pleading with most customers to look up C&C cages and Oxbow which we didnt carry and refused to sell animals to countless people when they showed signs of being unwilling to spend money on the basics. We also took in so many abused animals that werent purchased at our store, paid for their vet visit, and adopted them out to a better home that will better appreciate them, always with the adoption fee going directly to local shelters. That is why I loved working there, even with miserly customers and cages that catered to them, because I felt like we were making a difference in the lives of these little guys.

    I apologize for rambling and possibly over-reacting, but REALLY. Death sentence over ring worm?! What kind of propaganda have you been listening to?? Again, sorry for over-reacting… (But… Lol)

  9. Robyn says:

    This is dumb….no offense but ringworms are so common in any animal! It’s not a big deal and certainly not worth returning your fur-baby! There is very good over the counter medicines, don’t panic! Take care of yourself and take care of your piggy!

  10. Stephenie says:

    Recently I adopted 2 guinea pigs from PetSmart. We look them over repeatably before we purchased them and saw no signs of any problems. About 5 days later one of the pigs had a bald spot on the side of it nose about 1 x .5 cm. It seemed to appear overnight. At first we thought it had gotten injured but when it was worse the next day. After some online research that lead us to suspect ringworm we called PetSmart.

    PetSmart’s policy is return for a refund or exchange and that the sick animal will receive vet care. After the animal is cured, you have the option of adopting the pet again. I told them that this was unacceptable. They offered to take them, cure them, and return them to us but it would take two weeks to a month. I asked why could they just tell us when they would be taken to the vet so we could bring them in and then get the meds to treat them ourselves. If I took them to the vet they wouldn’t keep them, they would give me the meds and tell me how to treat them. Plus my children had bonded with the pigs and the were already having success with litter training them. PetSmart agreed and did just that. They have even called to follow up on how the pigs are doing. I don’t know if it is all PetSmart stores of just my local one but I was glad that logic prevailed.

    The one with ringworm does not like the drops at all. As soon as she sees the med bottle she starts squealing. I am hoping to see some improvement soon, we are on day 3 of treatment.

  11. Diane says:

    I too purchased two male guinea pigs from a Petsmart in Sewell, NJ, and both my daughters and myself came down with ring worm on our necks and chins! When I went back to Petsmart, the one employee was implying I gave the ring worm to the guinea pigs! We never had a problem until I brought them home! They didn’t even offer me my money back on anything I purchased, and only gave me money back one the one guinea pig!

  12. LP says:

    Sadly, I just returned two babies to Petsmart as they were both sick, one with an eye infection and one with ringworm. They were from two different litters, and purchased without having had contact with each other at the store. I sure hope it doesn’t spread to my son. I was told they will be treated for aproximately six weeks at which time we can re-adopt them. I worry about them being separated and kept in the store that long, but hopefully the comment above is typical and they will at least be held…so sad. Poor little creatures. All my animals have always been rescues…no more pet store purchases for me!

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