Author: Vanessa Ngan, Staff Writer, 2005.
Sporotrichosis is a fungal infection of the skin caused by the fungus Sporothrix schenckii, which is found on decaying vegetation, rosebushes, twigs, hay, sphagnum moss and mulch-rich soil. Because of its tendency to present after a thorn injury, it is also called rose gardener disease.
The most common route of infection with S schenckii is via the skin through small cuts, scratches or punctures from thorns, barbs, pine needles or wires. Sporotrichosis does not appear to be transmitted from person to person but there are reported cases of transmission from infected cats to humans. In very rare cases, spore-laden dust can be inhaled or ingested and in people with a weakened immune system cause disseminated (widespread) sporotrichosis.
People at risk of contracting sporotrichosis include farmers, nursery workers, landscapers and gardeners. Adult males are, by their occupation, most exposed to the risk of infection.
Depending on the severity of infection and the overall well-being of the individual, sporotrichosis can present in several ways. Skin disease is the most common.
|Bones and joint disease||
The lymphocutaneous route is the most common presentation of sporotrichosis and is sometimes described as sporotrichoid spread. It occurs following the implantation of spores in a wound. Lesions usually appear on exposed skin and often the hand or forearm is affected, as these areas are a common site of injury. Features of cutaneous sporotrichosis include:
Other lymphocutaneous infections can mimic the lesions of sporotrichosis so it is important to perform tests to confirm diagnosis. Microscopy and culture of infected tissue is performed to identify the presence of Sporothrix schencki.
Treatment of sporotrichosis depends on the site infected.
|Site of infection||Treatment|
|Bones and joints||
|Disseminated (e.g. brain infection)||
Treatment of sporotrichosis can be prolonged but should continue until all lesions have resolved. This may take months or years, and scars may remain at the original site of infection. However, most people can expect a full recovery. Systemic or disseminated sporotrichosis is usually more difficult to treat and in some cases life-threatening for people with weakened immune systems.
Patients should be advised of measures to take to prevent sporotrichosis. These include wearing gloves, boots and clothing that covers the arms and legs when handling rose bushes, hay bales, pine seedlings or other materials that may scratch or break the skin surface. It is also advisable to avoid skin contact with sphagnum moss.
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