Rose Pickers Disease Is Very Real
By Stan V. (Stan the Rose Man) Griep
American Rose Society Certified Consulting Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District
Denver Rose Society Member
I had never heard of Rose Pickers Disease or the Sporothrix schenckii fungus until about 8 years ago now. Had someone told me about Rose Pickers Disease before then I would have thought they were joking with me due to me being a Rosarian. However the disease and the fungus became very real to me when my dear mother fell into a climbing rosebush in her back yard. She got several puncture wounds from that fall and a few nasty cuts. Some thorns had also broken off in her skin. We cleaned her up well removing the thorns and using hydrogen peroxide on the wounds, we thought we had done a good and thorough job. We soon learned we had not! My mother started to develop these hard bumps under the skin that were itchy and then painful, eventually breaking open to drain. I will spare you the rest of the nasty details. We took her to the doctor and then to a specialist that was also a surgeon. The entire ordeal went on for nearly two years with antibiotic drugs, other drugs and surgeries to remove the nodules. Had we taken her to the doctor as soon as possible, be it against her will, perhaps we could have saved her the nasty experience but also perhaps not. The first doctors were perplexed by what they saw and the specialist surgeon told me that he was going to write a medical paper on the entire situation. That is when it really hit me that what we were dealing with was extremely serious.
Researching the disease and the fungus that causes it again for this article did give me the chills I must admit….. Here is some medical information on it for you;
Sporotrichosis is a chronic infection characterized by nodular lesions of the subcutaneous tissue and the adjacent lymphatics that make pus, digest the tissue and then drain. Some of the diseases that may be caused by Sporothrix are:
lymphocutaneous infection: localized lymphocutaneou sporotrichosis
Osteoarticular sporotrichosis – the bones and joints may become infected
Keratitis – the eye(s) and adjacent areas may become infected
Systemic infection – sometimes the central nervous system is invaded as well
Pulmanary sporotrichoisis, this is caused by the inhalation of the conidia (fungal spores). Seen in about 25% of the cases.
Sporothrix typically lives as an organism that obtains nutrients from dead organic matter such as wood, decaying vegetation (such as rose thorns), Sphagnum moss, animal feces and in the soil. Sporothrix is especially abundant in areas where Sphagnum moss is abundant, such as in central Wisconsin. It is only rarely transmitted to humans, however when the Sphagnum moss is collected and used for floral arrangements and such uses where it is handled a lot the right conditions are provided for the transmission in some manner. For further medically related information please take a look at this link > http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/sporotrichosis
This article on “Rose Pickers Disease” brings to the forefront the need for safety while we work out in our gardens. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that emergency rooms treat more than 400,000 garden tool related accidents each year. Taking proper care of our hands and arms while working in the garden is extremely important to helping prevent accidents. Wearing those heavy and hot gloves while pruning may feel like a huge inconvenience, they truly do provide us with some great protection. There are rose pruning gloves on the market these days that are not so heavy really and have protecting sleeves on them that extend up the arm for good protection. The thorn on a rose stem or cane provides an excellent device for transmitting infectious material into your skin, as is seen with Rose Pickers Disease from the fungus Sporothrix schenckii.
Should you be poked, scratched or pricked by rose thorns, and you will be if you grow roses for any length of time, take care of the wound properly and right away. If the poke, scratch or prick draws blood, it is definitely deep enough to cause problems, even if it did not draw blood it could still lead to problems. Do not make the mistake of thinking that treatment of the wound can wait while you finish your pruning or other garden chores. I understand that it is an inconvenience to drop everything, go treat a “boo-boo” as we heard them called as children, then go back to work. However it truly is very important, if nothing else do it for this old rose man.
Perhaps it would be worth your while to create a little medical station of your own for the garden. Take a small plastic paint bucket and add some hydrogen peroxide, individually wrapped gauze pads, wound cleaning wipes, tweezers, Bactine, Band-Aids, eye-wash drops and whatever else you think appropriate in the bucket. Take your own little Garden Medical Station with you each time you go out to work in the garden, then treating a wound does not require travel to the house to take care of it. Keep an eye on the wound, even if you think you took care of things properly at the time. If it becomes reddish, swollen or more painful get yourself in to see your doctor!
Enjoy gardening in a safe and thoughtful manner, after all our garden friends need our shadow there!