This week I came back from the doctor with a weird diagnosis ( Sporotrichosis infection). It is not common but since there are a lot of rose and gardening people out there, I thought it my duty to warn you. Are you aware that a rose bush can kill you?? I sure wasn't. Before you all start fighting over my things, I don't plan to go any where ---yet.Sporotrichosis is an infection of the skin caused by a fungus, Sporothrix schenckii. This infection-causing fungus is related more closely to the mold on stale bread or the yeast used to brew beer than to bacteria that usually cause infections. The mold is found on rose thorns, hay, sphagnum moss, twigs, and soil. Therefore, the infection is more common among gardeners who work with roses, moss, hay, and soil.
Several weeks ago, for some reason I did not wear my elbow high rose gloves which I am usually religious about and my rose bush attacked me. It stuck me at the base of my index finger at the nail bed. It was in quite deep. I pulled the thorn out and suspected I didn't get it all. Within a day I had a blister like swelling at the site. That lasted about a week and then the blister broke and I thought that was it.
As the nail grew, it also got gruesome. My new nail was not there, just pink knarly skin and eventually I lost the old nail. After some time, the new nail growing in seemed OK but I had some pain and swelling at the site.
This is picture of my finger now. It has looked much, much worse. It appears I am getting ready to lose the second nail.
For the next month, I would have good days and bad days. Never screaming pain but annoying hangnail type pain. It would appear to be getting better, then relapse. I was thinking it was a simple nail fungus but finally I gave up the home remedies and saw the doctor. She had to do some research also for she had never come across it.
Sophorix is a yeasty fungus that can wreak havoc on the human body. An infected gardener can experience redness, swelling and open weeping ulcerations along the puncture site. The fungus then travels quickly to the lymphatic system where it spreads though out the body. It can infect the eyes causing keratitis, migrate to the bones and joints, and damage the central nervous system and lungs.
A deeply embedded thorn has been found to migrate into the bones or muscles, away from the original site. There it will bury itself, causing pain, fever and other signs of infection. Because this is not a commonly known disease, it often gets misdiagnosed.
Diagnosing sophorix is not easy. There is a skin test, similar to the TB test, which is fairly effective in pinpointing rose thorn disease. But it mainly is effective at identifying active lung infection and often misses the skin infection entirely. For deeply embedded thorns traditional X-rays, MRI's and CAT scans don't normally pick up on the thorn. However, ultrasound has been found to demonstrate the existence of an embedded thorn.
This can be a fatal condition but most often it is just a LOOOOOOG treatment and recovery. The drug they give you has really bad side effects. Right now we are going conservative with antibodies but if that doesn't work, which it won't on rose thorn disease, then ultrasound to find the piece I didn't get and removal are preferable to the long drug treatment ( 3 to 6 months).
I know I have a lot of gardener readers and like me, you may have worked with those beauties for years with no problems. This is a very serious disease and as previously stated, it can move to the bones and joints, the lungs and the brain. It can be fatal.
Please, please, please be sure to always wear gloves around the rose bushes or even just working in the garden. It just takes one slip up.
Anyone else been through this ???