Dr. Brendan Jackson, medical officer with the CDC's Mycotic Diseases Branch, said sporotrichosis had been an obscure disease in Brazil 20 years ago. It's now a serious problem in Rio de Janeiro and other Brazilian cities.
Sporothrix schenckii is found throughout the world and causes "rose gardener's disease," a rare infection mostly linked to cuts and scrapes that are exposed to soil and plants. It can cause slow-healing lesions and, less often, respiratory infections or generalized infections with joint pain, headache, or seizures.
Dr. Jackson said S brasiliensis appears to cause more severe disease than other Sporothrix species, with skin infections that can spread to lymph nodes and, in immunocompromised people, cause lesions throughout the body. The most severe disseminated infections can be fatal without antifungal treatment.
In Brazil, the infections in cats are known as "clown nose" because of the swollen, infected scratches and nasal mucosa lesions. The infection can be deadly for cats, and treatment tends to be lengthy and difficult. Veterinarians are among the people most likely to be exposed, usually through bites and scratches.
Isabella Dib Ferreira Gremião, Luisa Helena Monteiro Miranda, Erica Guerino Reis, Anderson Messias Rodrigues, and Sandro Antonio Pereira (2017) Zoonotic Epidemic of Sporotrichosis: Cat to Human Transmission. PLoS Pathog 13(1), e1006077.