Weird Garden Diseases: Part III

x-ray showing mycotic arthritis

In this final installment of my miniseries, I will explore fungal, or “mycotic” arthritis. This is a rare condition that affects bone and joint tissue. It arises from several conditions, all caused by fungi.

Below are a few of  the fungi-induced ailments that we can catch from coming into contact with contaminated soil:

  • Blastomycosis: caused by the fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis. Contracted by inhaling spores from infected wood or soil. Found mainly in south –central and Midwest regions of the United States and Canada.  Rare. Usually affects people with weakened immune systems.
  • Cryptococcosis: caused by the fungus: Cryptococcus neoformans. This fungus is also found in soil and infects the body through the lungs. It can lead to serious neurological symptoms in people with compromised immune systems.
  • Histoplasmosis: caused by the fungus: Histoplasma capsulatum. Like the others, this fungus enters through the lungs. It lives as a mold in the soil, and areas contaminated with bird or bat droppings can have higher concentrations of histoplasma.  Histoplasmosis can produce flu-like symptoms, and is a more serious concern in people with decreased lung function.
  • Sporotrichosis: Sporothrix   schenckii. Our old friend, the skin infection, “rose thorn disease.” Please read my previous post for more information.

All of the above-mentioned fungal infections can cause fungal arthritis. Doctors test for arthritis using procedures such as x- rays and synovial  (joint) fluid biopsies.

I have to say that after researching this series, I might just tuck a face mask into my gardening bag for windy days…..


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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3 Responses to Weird Garden Diseases: Part III

  1. Gardenpest says:

    Hi Cynthia
    Interesting series, thanks. A friendly reminder about life-threatening Tetanus disease. Tetanus (“Lockjaw”), although rare in the US, remains a risk for us gardeners because of our exposure to soil, a place where Tetanus bacterium commonly resides and, secondly, all our nicks, scrapes and cuts serve as ideal pathways for the deadly beast. Oh yeah, you find the beast not only in soil and dust but lots of places – not just rusty nails, as once thought. The third factor that puts us at risk is our not being current with the recommended vaccination and booster schedule. Save your life; get a booster every 10 yrs.

    Diagnosis is based on history and symptoms and not by lab test (unless that has changed). Symptoms can begin anywhere from a few days to 3 weeks. US mortality is 20% and older people seem to be particularly at risk. And the morbidity is serious – think weeks in the ICU and permanent damage to nerves, brain, and muscles. Enough said.

    Save your life – discuss vaccination or booster with your healthcare provider. mayo clinic


    • dirtynailz says:

      Hey, thanks for this. It should definitely have been included in the post, especially since it seems to be so prevalent – and so serious.


  2. Gardenpest says:

    Clarification: Actually in the US Tetanus occurs infrequently but when it does occur, it can be life-threatening. And what concerns public officials is the significant number of folks who aren’t current with their shots and the fact that older people are at higher risk. My 20% figure refers to mortality, not prevalence.

    And, no, you don’t develop immunity from Tetanus if you’ve been hit with it.


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