Sporotrichosis is a disease of concern to nursery personnel, farmers, gardeners, foresters, and anyone handling infested material. It is caused by the fungus Sporothrix schenckii. The natural habitat of the fungus is soil, sphagnum moss, and other plant material. It has also been found in commercial potting soil. Under favorable environmental conditions, sphagnum moss can become grossly infected. There is no evidence that the fungus is a plant pathogen, although it is found associated with a variety of trees, grasses, flowers, and hay.
Sporotrichosis occurs worldwide in both temperate and tropical zones. It often appears as a skin disease affecting the exposed parts of the body (arms, legs, hands). The disease is usually associated with an injury to the skin such as a prick by a thorn or splinter. A lesion, similar to an insect bite or a boil but slower to heal, develops at the site where spores were introduced into the skin. The infection may remain localized or may spread along lymphatic channels, producing secondary lesions. In rare cases, bones, joints, or lungs may become infected.
If you think you may have contracted the disease, see a doctor.
The gardener or homeowner should take the following precautions to prevent sporotrichosis:
Chad Behrendt, Crystal Floyd