Histoplasmosis

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by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD

En Español (Spanish Version)

* 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

© 2009 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.

Last reviewed November 2008 by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD

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.

Copyright © 2009 EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.

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