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Histoplasmosis Risk Factors
Although anyone who inhales the fungal components (spores, mycelia) may develop histoplasmosis, unless a large number of fungal organisms or repeated exposure to the fungi occurs, disease is usually infrequent in healthy people. However, infants, children, the elderly, and those with chronic lung disease are at risk. Immunodepressed patients (for example, cancer or AIDS patients) are at the highest risk for severe histoplasmosis.
Histoplasma capsulatum lives in acidic, damp environments that contain organic material. High concentrations of the fungus occur in caves where bats or birds reside, and the fungi are in the soil. Bats, but not birds, can become infected and spread the fungi in their feces. Most outbreaks occur when construction or renovation projects disturb and aerosolize dust containing the fungi so people who participate in or live near such projects are at higher risk for histoplasmosis.
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