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Sporotrichosis (cont.)

Sporotrichosis Symptoms and Signs

  • Once the fungal conidia (spores) are moved into the skin via thorns, scrapes, or other mechanisms, the disease takes days to months to develop.
  • The first symptom is a firm bump (nodule) on the skin that can range in color from pink to nearly purple. The nodule is usually painless or only mildly tender.
  • Over time, the nodule may develop an open sore (ulcer) that may drain clear fluid; in other instances, mycetomas may be formed. Mycetomas are areas where sinus tracts are formed from the lymph to the skin surface and discharge granules containing masses of organisms that cause the infection.
  • Untreated, the nodule and the ulcer become chronic and may remain unchanged for years.
  • In about 60% of cases, the fungus spreads along the lymph nodes. Over time, new nodules and ulcers spread in a line up the infected arm or leg. These can also last for years.
  • In very rare cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the body.
    • The disease can infect the bones, joints, lungs, and tissues surrounding the brain (fungal meningitis).
    • Such spreading usually occurs only in people with a weakened immune system.
    • The widespread infections can be life threatening and are difficult to treat.

The symptoms are progressive. Initial sites of infection are not visibly distinctive. As the infection progresses, lesions develop, often appearing in a line as successive areas (lymph nodes) of the lymphatic channels become infected (compare figures below).

Picture of sporotrichosis affecting the thumb
Picture of sporotrichosis affecting the thumb; SOURCE: CDC/Dr. William Kaplan

Picture of sporotrichosis lesions on a patient's arm
Picture of sporotrichosis lesions on a patient's arm; SOURCE: CDC/Dr. Lucille K. Georg

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