Histoplasmosis

Definition

Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection that often causes a respiratory illness.

Causes

Histoplasmosis is caused by infection with a fungus. Humans become infected by exposure to bird and bat droppings.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for histoplasmosis include:

  • Having a job that puts you in contact with bird or bat droppings (such as an aviary)
  • Being involved in activities that put you in contact with bird or bat droppings (such as cave exploration)
  • Keeping birds as pets
  • Living along river valleys
  • Living in Mississippi, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, or Tennessee
  • Living in eastern Canada, Mexico, Central or South America, southeast Asia, or Africa
  • Having recently traveled to a location where histoplasmosis is common
  • Having a medical condition that weakens your immune system (especially HIV )

Symptoms

Many patients may not have any symptoms.

Symptoms may include:

  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Achy muscles
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Malaise (a feeling of discomfort or uneasiness)
  • Hemoptysis (spitting out blood)
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Enlarged liver and spleen
  • Skin rashes
  • Loss of vision

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.

Tests may include:

Bone Biopsy

Bone biopsy

© 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Treatment

Antifungal Medications

These may include amphotericin B or itraconazole. Patients with AIDS may require treatment with an antifungal medication for the rest of their lives to prevent further attacks of histoplasmosis.

Prevention

If you might be exposed to bird or bat droppings, wear a face mask. If you have a weakened immune system, completely avoid bird and bat droppings.

RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
http://www.cdc.gov

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
http://www.niaid.nih.gov/

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Communicable Disease Control Unit
Manitoba Health
http://www.gov.mb.ca/

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References:

Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment . Lange Medical Books; 2001.

Family Practice Sourcebook . Mosby; 2000.

Ferri's Clinical Advisor . Mosby; 2000.

The Little Black Book of Primary Care . Blackwell Science; 1999.



Last reviewed December 2007 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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