- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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; SOURCE: CDC
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/1/2015
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