Zoonotic Disease - Rose Grower's Disease


Rose Grower's Disease

Q: You may not remember but we sent an e-mail a few months back about our cat and a differential diagnosis of feline aids, irritable bowel, etc. We had taken her in because she smelled and didn't seem to be thriving. Well, when the cat didn't seem to be getting any better, I took her to another vet. She (the vet) thought she may have colitis, and we started treating her that way. Then, I went away for a week and when I came back she had this disgusting sore on one of her front paws. We treated her with an antibiotic for awhile, with no results. Finally the vet and I decided to do an x-ray to look for bone involvement and to biopsy the wound. There was no bone involvement, but the biopsy grew out a fungus known as "Rose grower's disease". How bizarre! ( I guess the reason she smelled was because when I held her, her paws would be close to my face) We started treating with Potassium iodide and wrapping the wound. I tried to do dressing changes at home, but because the wound was so weepy and gross, I decided to leave the bandage off, in hopes of drying out the fungus. (Thinking of athlete's foot that needs it to be warm and dark to live.)

Last week I got a call from my vet saying one of her staff members contracted the disease! This has been a nightmare! Fortunatley, my husband is a physician in town and knows the infectious disease doctor and consulted him about what to do. My vet strongly urged us to consider euthanasia, and at the very least the cat had to be isolated. We decided to board her at the vet hospital at least until the wound heals. She's been there a week now. She's continued to take the potassium iodide and they are doing dressing changes every few days. The vet says the wound appears to be healing, thankfully. The technician who was infected is being monitored closely. She apparently has involvement in one lymph node. I have been fortunate, having been around animals all of my life. For the most part they have been healthy. I guess it was my turn for something strange. As the vet says "you can't have a pet with a normal problem, can you"? Blossom will probably spend two more weeks at the vet. I'm hoping her wound will heal and then we can continue the antifungal at home. She's a very sweet, loving cat. So that's your update. I'm sure I'll keep you posted! K.

A: Rose grower's disease is caused by sporothrix schenckii, I think. If that is the case, there is some controversy over the value of culturing this organism and veterinary dermatologists recommend confirmation by biopsy or cytology to be sure the organism is the pathogen. There is some concern that problems like l-form bacteria may be confused with this since they were only recognized fairly recently and cause somewhat similar signs.

I think with the presence of the problem in the technician that the etiology seems pretty clear but I just wanted to cover all the bases and point that out. Zoonotic diseases are worrisome and caution seems reasonable.

Ketaconazole and itraconazole are also supposed to work for this condition, just in case the potassium iodide doesn't (it is the standard treatment, especially for localized lesions).

I really would appreciate hearing more as things progress. It seems like your vet is doing a good job in identifying the problem and handling it and since this is not a common problem knowing the outcome will be helpful.

Mike Richards, DVM


Michael Richards, D.V.M. co-owns a small animal general veterinary practice in rural tidewater Virginia. Dr. Richards graduated from Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, and has been in private practice ever since. Dr. Richards has been the director of the PetCare Forum...