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Keywords:

  • Trichophyton verrucosum;
  • Calves;
  • Ringworm;
  • Italy

Summary

Recent epidemiological features of the zoonotic dermatophyte Trichophyton verrucosum were investigated in 294 calves from 20 farms located in Central Italy. By the combination of microscopic examinations and fungal cultures, the total prevalence rate of T. verrucosum infection was found to be high, with 87.7% of samples yielding positive results and 100% of farms being infected. Farm to farm prevalence of infection varied from 25% to 100% of the examined calves. Prevalence rates were higher in females than males (91.6% versus 84%), in >3–≤6 than >6–≤9 month old calves (89.8% versus 85.7%), in purebred than in crossbred (88.5% versus 81.8%), and in symptomatic than asymptomatic ones (95.7% versus 80.4%). T. verrucosum was as prevalent in semi-intensive as in intensive breeding system (88.2% versus 87.6%) but more prevalent in calves raised for meat rather than milk production (91.1% versus 84.9%), and reared under conventional than organic production management system (89.3% versus 82.6%). Prevalence rates were also higher when the cattle present in the farm were of mixed origin, rather than when the whole stock was purchased or was born in the farm (92% versus 88.2% and 85.7%), when other cattle in the farm were showing skin signs (90% versus 84.2%), and at least one case of human ringworm was recorded in the farm (90.9% versus 86.1%). No statistically significant association was found. Therefore, T. verrucosum infection may be more widespread in calves from Central Italy than it was previously thought to be. Calves of any sex, breed, age, and of any of the farm condition considered, are highly exposed to the risk of infection. As calves may play a considerable role as reservoirs of the infection, our results highlight the need to determine the incidence and the importance of T. verrucosum ringworm in personnel involved with cattle care in Italy and elsewhere.