17. Ringworm (trichophytosis)
Ringworm (trichophytosis) is a fungus infection of the skin that is characterised by spots that are more or less round. Animals in a herd contaminate one another, but the infection can also be transferred from animals to humans. Humans experience itching, but cattle do not.
woman with trichophytosis
yearling with ringworm
After examining the cows for pregnancy, we proceed to the shed with yearlings. They need to be administered an BRSV vaccination (Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus). The yearlings stand with their heads secured in the feeding railing. A few animals have scaly, bald rings around the eyes. The neck shows asbestos-like spots. “They have ringworm Driek. Make sure you don’t catch it yourself, or your children.” Driek does not take this too seriously: his daughters are rarely in the barn and as far as he himself is concerned, it will sort itself out. He is meanwhile scratching his wrist. But he often has an itch here and there. We vaccinate the yearlings and proceed to burn away the horn buds of the youngest calves; using an anaesthetic, of course. Then it is time for coffee. I leave my overalls and boots behind in the milking parlour. I grab the file with reports from the car along with a bottle of betadine (povidone iodine). Which not only kills bacteria, but also moulds, if given the time to take effect. We wash our hands in the scullery and I apply the disinfectant to my hands. I leave the bottle for Driek. Sitting in the kitchen, we run through the farm profits of the past weeks.
When I return to the farm six weeks later for the next counselling session, I learn that the family has been having problems. His wife was admitted to hospital for a week after she experienced a rash all over her body and a high fever. It all started with a few itchy spots in her neck and on a few delicate body parts. The family doctor had prescribed a disinfectant. She had added the disinfectant to her bath and had thoroughly brushed herself from head to toe. But the Trichophyton (ringworm) had then spread itself over her entire body. She then became deathly ill due to an additional staphylococcus infection and was rushed to the hospital.
Each time when leaving the barn, Driek had washed his hands, but he had not used the bottle of betadine. And you cannot get rid of a ringworm infection by merely washing your hands. His loving hands then infected his wife. And so this infection can actually be seen as the ill consequence of a good marriage.
© Leo Rogier Verberne