Sporotrichosis (also known as “rose gardener’s disease”) is a rare infection caused by a fungus called Sporothrix. This fungus lives throughout the world in soil and on plant matter such as sphagnum moss, rose bushes, and hay. People get sporotrichosis by coming in contact with the fungal spores in the environment. Cutaneous (skin) infection is the most common form of the infection. It occurs when the fungus enters the skin through a small cut or scrape, usually after handling contaminated plant matter. Some cases of sporotrichosis have been associated with scratches or bites from animals, particularly cats.
Types of sporotrichosis
- Cutaneous (skin) sporotrichosis is the most common form of the infection. It usually occurs on a person’s hand or the arm after they have been handling contaminated plant matter.
- Pulmonary (lung) sporotrichosis is very rare but can happen after someone breathes in fungal spores from the environment.
- Disseminated sporotrichosis occurs when the infection spreads to another part of the body, such as the bones, joints, or the central nervous system. This form of sporotrichosis usually affects people who have weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV infection (see Risk & Prevention).