An outbreak of an aggressive strain of ringworm, a skin disease, has forced the temporary closure of the shelter at the Howard County Animal Control facility.
The shelter will be closed until June 19 and no adoptions will occur until the reopening, according to a news release from the county.
Ringworm, which is not a worm, but is a fungal infection of the skin, can be passed from contact with dogs and cats to people. The disease spreads easily from one person to another, according to KidsHealth.org.
The animal facility, located at 8576 Davis Road in Columbia, is following veterinarian recommendations for treatment, prevention and shelter cleaning.
Animals with ringworm symptoms, which include hair loss and rash, are being kept in isolation and receiving treatment. Animals that show no symptoms of the disease are being cultured to test for a dormant infection.
All animals will receive the first step of the treatment process while the shelter awaits test results, which can take seven days. Any animals that test positive will continue to receive further treatment, as recommended by the veterinarian.
Owners who can no longer keep their pets are asked to wait until the quarantine is lifted to surrender their animals, or to take them to another shelter.
The Animal Control facility will remain open for other business, including road services, lost and found animals and citizen complaints.
Staff members are cleaning the facility according to recommendations from a veterinarian, including removal of animal bedding and toys, surface cleaning with a bleach solution and weekly replacements of air filters.