Chest conditionsDisease, Condition & InjuryLungs


Histoplasmosis – Definition

Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection that often causes a respiratory illness.

Histoplasmosis – Causes

Histoplasmosis is caused by infection with a fungus. Humans become infected by exposure to bird and bat droppings.

Histoplasmosis – Risk Factors

Factors that increases your chance of getting 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, parts of the Carribbean, 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)

Histoplasmosis – 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

Histoplasmosis – Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Blood culture
  • Sputum culture
  • Pulmonary function test
  • Skin testing
  • Urine antigen testing
  • X-rays of chest and/or abdomen
  • Bone marrow tests

Histoplasmosis – 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.

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.

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