Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection that initially affects the lungs. Most people become infected with histoplasmosis by breathing in fungal spores from soil or material that has been contaminated with bird or bat droppings. People with weakened immune systems are more at risk for developing histoplasmosis, as well as farmers, construction workers, landscapers and poultry workers. This fungus is more common in the United States in the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys.
Symptoms of Histoplasmosis
Mild forms of histoplasmosis may cause no symptoms at all. When symptoms occur, they commonly begin between three days to two weeks after initial exposure and may include:
- Muscle aches
Severe cases of histoplasmosis may occur in infants and individuals with compromised immune systems. In addition to the initial symptoms, severe cases of histoplasmosis may affect other parts of the body, including the eyes, liver, central nervous system, skin and adrenal glands. Symptoms of chronic histoplasmosis sometimes mimic those of the flu or tuberculosis. Because histoplasmosis can be a serious condition, it is important to seek medical attention if symptoms arise.
Diagnosis of Histoplasmosis
Histoplasmosis is diagnosed through a a physical examination and a series of diagnostic tests that may include:
- Blood tests
- Chest X-Ray
- Urine test
- CT scan
A fungal culture may be taken from samples of tissue or body fluids. Histoplasmosis may also be diagnosed by viewing a small sample of infected tissue under a microscope.
Treatment of Histoplasmosis
Mild cases of histoplasmosis commonly resolve on their own without any treatment. Severe cases are treated with anti-fungal medication that may be necessary long-term.