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Blastomycosis Facts

  • Blastomycosis is a fungal infection.
  • Blastomycosis is caused by a dimorphic (has two forms) fungus termed Blastomyces dermatitidis.
  • Risk factors include immunocompromised patients, and traveling or living in dense wooded areas.
  • Symptoms resemble the flu (fever, chills, cough, and discomfort or pain in the muscles, joints, and chest) but may become more severe and prolonged; skin lesions may develop and other organ systems may be affected.
  • Seek medical care if you develop symptoms and have risk factors.
  • Blastomycosis is diagnosed by culturing the fungi from infected organ systems (biopsy samples).
  • Blastomycosis should be treated by medical caregivers not by self-care at home.
  • Medical treatment is done with long-term (six to 12 months) antifungal drugs.
  • Blastomycosis follow-up is very important to obtain the proper treatment and to check for reinfection by the fungus.
  • Blastomycosis prognosis is variable; most patients do well, but immunocompromised patients have a prognosis that can vary from good to poor.
  • Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against blastomycosis; avoidance of wooded areas where the fungi thrive is advised by the CDC.

What Is Blastomycosis?

Blastomycosis is an infection caused by various related genotypes of the fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis. Blastomycosis is also termed North American blastomycosis, Gilchrist's disease, and blastomycetic dermatitis. Blastomycosis is found predominately in the central and southeast U.S., although it does occur in Canada, Africa, and sporadically in a few other countries. The fungi can infect many types of animals (for example, dogs, cats, bats, lions, horses) and humans. The vast majority of infections occur in the lungs.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2016

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Symptoms of Blastomycosis

Only with about half of the people who are infected with blastomycosis will show symptoms. If symptoms occur, they usually appear between 3 and 15 weeks after being exposed to the fungus. The symptoms of blastomycosis are similar to flu symptoms, and include fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, joint pain, and chest pain. In very serious cases of blastomycosis, the fungus can disseminate (spread) to other parts of the body, such as the skin and bones.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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