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Histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis Facts

  • Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by a dimorphic fungus, Histoplasma capsulatum.
  • Risk factors for histoplasmosis include immunocompromised people and association with airborne particles containing the fungi (caves containing bats, bird feces, construction sites).
  • Histoplasmosis is most common in North and Central America.  In North America, the fungus is known to live in the soil in the central and eastern states, especially in the areas around the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys. The fungus is not limited to these areas and can live in other areas of North America.  Data on the U.S. geography of this fungus comes from studies performed in the 1940s and 1950s, therefore it is not current. Outside the U.S., histoplasmosis is also found in parts of Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
  • Symptoms of histoplasmosis range from none to flu-like symptoms (fever, dry cough, chest discomfort); severe infections may cause vision problems, mouth ulcers, seizures, encephalopathy, and death.
  • Seek medical care if symptoms of the flu or pneumonia persist, especially in people with immunocompromised systems.
  • Histoplasmosis has an incubation period of about three to 17 days.
  • Histoplasmosis is not contagious; it is not transmitted person to person.
  • Definitive diagnosis is made by culturing and identifying Histoplasma capsulatum from biopsy, blood, or sputum samples.
  • The majority of patients infected by Histoplasma capsulatum require no treatment; the small number of patients who develop more severe infection may require long-term antifungal treatments (months to a year) while a few may need lifelong antifungal treatment.
  • Physician specialists who may be consulted if the infection becomes moderate to severe include infectious disease physicians and others, depending on which organs are damaged.
  • Follow-up is important because of the potential need for long-term antifungal treatments to monitor drug levels and to determine effective treatment or reoccurrence of infection.
  • The large majority of patients who develop histoplasmosis have no complication; ocular (eye) problems, mouth ulcers, encephalopathy, seizures, and, rarely, death may occur in those few patients that develop severe disease.
  • The large majority of people who develop histoplasmosis have good outcomes; patients who are immunocompromised have outcomes that range from good to poor, depending on their response to treatment and disease severity.
  • No vaccine is currently available to prevent histoplasmosis; avoidance of bat and bird habitats and avoiding construction sites that may aerosolize the fungi is recommended.
Picture of spores of Histoplasma capsulatum fungi
Picture of spores of Histoplasma capsulatum fungi; SOURCE: CDC
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2016

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Histoplasmosis Symptom

Fever

A fever (also termed pyrexia) is a higher-than-normal body temperature. It is a symptom caused by a wide variety of illnesses. Fevers may occur in anyone at any age; however, this article is specifically addressing fever in adults.

Every one of us has experienced the wave of chills and exhaustion that a fever causes. Fever usually occurs in response to an infection as with the flu or cold viruses or strep throat bacterial infection, or with inflammation that occurs with tissue injury or disease (such as with some cancers).



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