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Sporotrichosis facts*

*Sporotrichosis facts medical author:

  • Sporotrichosis (also termed rose gardener's or rose handler's disease) is an infection caused by the fungus Sporothrix schenckii, found throughout the world; it is usually associated with minor skin cuts and scrapes that occur when handling vegetation (moss, hay, wood, sharp-stemmed plants like rosebushes).
  • The first symptom of sporotrichosis is usually a small bump on the arm, finger, or hand that may occur about one to 12 weeks after exposure; the bump or nodule eventually comes larger and resembles a sore or ulcer. Immunodepressed individuals develop disseminated infections and/or pneumonia that can cause shortness of breath, cough, and fever.
  • Risk factors include people who handle plants like rosebushes and other items, such as moss or bales of hay; vocational outbreaks have occurred with rose gardeners, greenhouse workers, and/or children playing on bales of hay.
  • There is no vaccine to prevent sporotrichosis; individuals can reduce exposure by wearing gloves and long-sleeved shirts to prevent small cuts or abrasions that allow the fungi into the skin.
  • Rarely, inhalation of the fungi can cause pulmonary infections; there is no person-to-person spread, but infections have occurred from scratches or bites by animals, such as cats.
  • Sporotrichosis is usually diagnosed by swabbing or taking a biopsy of an infected site that is sent for fungal culture.
  • The usual treatment for sporotrichosis is oral itraconazole (Sporanox) for about three to six months; other treatments include supersaturated potassium iodide and amphotericin B in patients with more severe disease.
  • The incidence worldwide of sporotrichosis is unknown, but there have been outbreaks in the U.S., Western Australia, Brazil, and Peru, for example. The fungi Sporothrix schenckii is associated with soil and plant matter.


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