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:
- Achy muscles
- Joint pain
- Malaise (a feeling of discomfort or uneasiness)
- Hemoptysis (spitting out blood)
- Chest pain
- 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
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.