by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection that usually affects the lungs.
Histoplasmosis is caused by a specific fungus. People often become infected when they inhale the fungus. The fungus can become airborne in dust or debris during demolition projects. People can also come in contact with the fungus through contact with soil contaminated with bat or bird droppings.
Factors that may increase your chances of exposure to histoplasmosis:
Not everyone who comes in contact with the fungus will develop an infection. Medical conditions that weaken your immune system, like HIV, cancer treatment, certain biologic therapies to treat joint and soft tissue diseases, or having an organ transplant can increase your chance of infection.
Histoplasmosis does not generally cause symptoms. Symptoms that may occur include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your body fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
The immune system can often remove the fungus. People who do not have symptoms or those who have mild symptoms do not need treatment.
Antifungal medication may be needed if symptoms last for more than 1 month.
If you have a suppressed immune system, you may need life-long antifungal medication. The medication will help to prevent a recurrence of histoplasmosis.
If you might be exposed to bird or bat droppings, wear a face mask.
If you have a weakened immune system, completely avoid:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Histoplasmosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/histoplasmosis. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed December 11, 2017.
Histoplasmosis. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/histoplasmosis. Updated November 2017. Accessed December 11, 2017.
Histoplasmosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115093/Histoplasmosis . Updated April 27, 2017. Accessed December 11, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 12/11/2017
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