Sporothrix schenckii- An Overview


Sporothrix schenckii is a fungus that can cause a chronic infection called sporotrichosis, which affects the skin and sometimes other parts of the body. The fungus is named after Benjamin Schenck, a medical student who first isolated it from a human specimen in 1896.

Sporothrix schenckii is widely distributed in the environment, especially in soil and plant matter such as peat moss, rose bushes, and hay. It can infect humans and animals through skin wounds or inhalation of spores. The infection is more common in people who handle plants or soil, such as gardeners, florists, and forestry workers.

Sporothrix schenckii is a dimorphic fungus, which means it can grow in two different forms depending on the temperature. In the environment and at temperatures below 35°C, it grows as a mold with branching hyphae and conidia (spores). In the body and at temperatures above 35°C, it grows as a yeast with oval or elongated cells that bud.

Sporotrichosis can manifest in different ways depending on the site and extent of infection. The most common form is cutaneous sporotrichosis, which involves the skin and subcutaneous tissues. It usually starts as a small bump that develops into an ulcer and spreads along the lymphatic vessels. Other forms include pulmonary sporotrichosis, which affects the lungs; disseminated sporotrichosis, which affects multiple organs; and osteoarticular sporotrichosis, which affects the bones and joints.

Sporotrichosis can be diagnosed by direct examination, culture, histology, molecular methods, or serology of specimens from infected sites. The treatment of sporotrichosis depends on the type and severity of infection. Antifungal drugs such as itraconazole are usually effective for most cases. Potassium iodide can also be used for cutaneous sporotrichosis. Severe or disseminated infections may require amphotericin B.

Sporotrichosis can be prevented by avoiding contact with contaminated soil or plants, wearing protective clothing and gloves when handling plants or soil, and treating skin wounds promptly. Infected animals should be isolated and treated to prevent zoonotic transmission.