What Is Sporotrichosis, And What Are Its Symptoms?

Sporotrichosis, or

Sometimes called "Rose Thorn disease", sporotrichosis is an infection by the opportunistic Sporothrix schenckii fungus, found often in soil rich in decaying vegetable components. It is largely an affliction of those professionally tied to gardening or agriculture, as small cuts or pricks may become infected with the fungus in the process of handling or treating vegetation or soil matter. Outbreaks are sometimes the source of some attention, though they are relatively common; the disease can, if untreated, be fatal, though it will take a great deal of time to run its course to that end if indeed it ever does. Concern should not be taken by those near the afflicted, as it cannot be transmitted from one individual to another.

The first noticeable symptom of the disease is a small, usually painless bump, or nodule, at the site of infection, about the size and shape of a bug bite--coloration may vary, but redness of some degree is the norm. Additional bumps will then generally appear, eventually having the potential to ulcerate, at which point they will heal at a dramatically reduced rate. If the infection spreads, it may begin to affect the body's lymph nodes, at which point symptoms can include soreness around the lymph centers (armpits, neck), as well as the appearance of additional sores.

Upon recognition of symptoms, one should find a doctor so that the condition may be treated promptly, before the appearance of potential complications. Prescription antifungal treatment will generally be required to cure the disease. Diagnosis usually involves a biopsy or swab of one of the infected nodules on the skin, which must be examined in a laboratory setting. Upon successful diagnosis, the physician may prescribe ointment or other treatments for symptom control, and will usually prescribe either potassium iodide or Sporanox, both of which are systemic and oral. Treatment must persist until symptoms completely disappear.

The fungus, known especially to be prevalent in moss, is especially common in regions of high humidity and heat. For this reason, especially if one works in these regions, one must be cautious when performing work outdoors so as not to risk unnecessarily cuts or pricks, especially when dealing with vegetation and moss. While the generic name for the disease may involve roses, there is no special concern when handling roses over any other plant, save that they are well known to have thorns. Thorned berry bushes offer a similar potential for concern, as do pine cones, and the like. Gloves may help reduce the risk of infection, especially during periods of outbreak. Be sure to stay on top of local sources for such information so as to determine whether a special risk applies, if you work in an outdoor profession that makes you susceptible, or if you enjoy gardening as a hobby. While sporotrichosis is not a serious mortal risk, it is an inconvenient and generally very painful condition that necessitates a doctor's attention, which alone is a pain that no one should bear unnecessarily.

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