Man diagnosed with 'gardener's disease' that 'ate away at his arm'

Man diagnosed with 'gardener's disease' that 'ate away at his arm'

A farmer from China had to be hospitalised recently after a mysterious disease had started to "eat away at his arm."

The 65-year-old told man, who has not been named, turned up at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital in Guangzhou with massive trauma to his arm. He told doctors that he he had suffered an injury months earlier, and the resulting infection had been gradually spreading across his skin.

Dr. Jinglin Qin, who reported on the case in the New England Journal of Medicine, said that the patient had tried to treat the rash with a mixture of "juices and fragments from herbs ... but there was no improvement to his condition."

gardener's arm disease Credit: The New England Journal of Medicine

As soon as he arrived at the hospital, doctors could see that he needed urgent attention, and gave him an assessment. They took note of the appearance of the rash - which they said was large, red, and covered in patches of blistered, ulcerating, "crusting" skin.

A biopsy was taken to determine the cause of the infection. Once in the lab, the skin sample began to grow a fungus. This was later identified as Sporotrix schenckii - otherwise known as Gardener's Disease.

According to the CDC, "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."

man gardening Credit: Pexels

"The infection usually involves the skin and subcutaneous tissue and occurs from inoculation of the fungus from plants and soil through the skin," said Dr. Jinglin.

Though it is not common, the doctor said, it can affect people with compromised or weak immune systems.

Thankfully, in this case, Dr. Jinglin's team were able to treat the man with anti-fungal drugs, and within four months the rash and crusty sores had healed.