The source of most dermatophyte infections is other animals. M. canis infections in both cats and dogs usually originate from contact with an infected cat, whereas many T. mentagrophytes infections are thought to originate from rodents. M. gypseum, however, is a soil organism.

The arthrospores of dermatophytes are, however, very resistant, and can survive in the environment, on furniture and equipment for several years, providing a long-term source of infection.

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