SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A simple prick by a thorn landed an Antelope woman in the hospital. She’s still recovering from a serious infection and warns other gardeners to be cautious while pruning roses.
“I just never would have thought that something so organic like a rose bush would cause so much damage,” said Gennifer Lendahl-Gonzales.
Back in February, Lendahl-Gonzales was in her rose garden, where she often spends afternoons with her roses. She was getting the house ready for company when something happened that isn’t out of the ordinary for a gardener.
“I just went to grab a little clover from under the rose bush and it pricked me,” she said.
The next morning, her left hand swelled up. When the pain became an unbearable pain, her husband took her to the emergency room.
“It felt like a sledgehammer was brought down on all the bones in my hand and had broken it,” Lendahl-Gonzales said. “That one time, that one prick!”
She went back to the ER five times. Doctors prescribed two different antibiotics but the pain persisted.
“I just kept going back in and they just kept saying it was an infection of my hand,” she said.
Finally, an MRI revealed a bone infection and Lendahl-Gonzales needed surgery. But UC Davis Horticulturist Marlene Simon said it’s not that uncommon.
“I had a professor who almost died from that happening and this was years ago and I thought nothing of it!” she said. “But it’s not the plant’s fault. It actually isn’t the rose, it’s the fungus that is on the rose.”
A fungus called ‘sporothrix’ that’s airborne and can land on anything from moss to dead stick to a thorn.
“It’s almost like a hypodermic needle going in so it’s injecting it into it,” Simon said.
Doctors told Lendahl-Gonzales the infection could have come from any bacteria that happened to land on that thorn. Six weeks after the prick, she’s still recovering.
“I don’t have full range of motion,” she told CBS13.
And after nine years of pruning to the roses, her husband said it’s time for something new in the garden.
“I got some hibiscus flowers in there and he told me he doesn’t want me gardening so that means he has to do it,” Lendahl-Gonzales said.
Simon recommends wearing thick gloves when pruning roses and keeping your tetanus shots up to date. Doctors told Lendahl-Gonzales she has another 2-3 months to go before she’s back to normal.