Why you shouldn’t pet cats on vacation

In our last webinar for professionals, we learned from the renowned speaker Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Tietz, head of the Institute for Fungal Diseases in Berlin, how and where skin fungi (mycoses) spread and how they are treated. Some insights from this inspiring lecture are summarized here.

Basically, we find fungal pathogens almost everywhere in our everyday lives and it is also good to know that many people do not fall ill from them. Nevertheless, it is better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to children, as tedious and lengthy treatments are often difficult for young patients. Some easy-to-implement measures can help to avoid the most common pathogens for skin fungi (mycoses), especially on vacation.

Tip 1: Microsporum audouinii, also known as orphanage disease, is a very contagious fungus that can also be spread via plastic surfaces. So before you have your hair plaited on the beach, make sure that the comb has been thoroughly disinfected.

Tip 2: Although the name of one of the common fungal pathogens “Microsporum canis” makes you think of dogs, it is mainly transmitted by cats in southern vacation countries. This skin fungus is not visible to the cat and the incubation period of these mycoses is approx. 10 days. As a result, you usually only notice the change in the skin when you are back home and it is difficult to determine the cause. So it’s better not to stroke cats you don’t know.

Tip 3: The guinea pig fungus, with the dinosaur-sounding name Trichophyton benhamiae, has also spread rapidly in our latitudes in the wake of corona. Intensive cuddling with a guinea pig, forexample, is not necessarily safe.

Tip 4: In the case of mycoses transmitted from person to person, such as Trichophyton tonsurans, Tinea capitis or Tinea corporis, transmission often takes place via mats in sports centers (martial arts and wrestling) or via the shaving heads in barbershops. Regular cleaning after each customer with a good surface disinfectant is an absolute must.

Tip 5: Of course, “common” foot and nail fungi should not be forgotten. Wearing sandals or flip-flops in pool areas or spas can often prevent the transmission of Candida albicans (yeast fungus). Despite all precautions, the vacation enjoyment should of course not be overshadowed by fear and normally a healthy immune system is also able to defend itself against fungal pathogens. In the event of a fungal infection on the skin, a specialist should be consulted.