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Histoplasmosis

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

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

Risk Factors:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for 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, Ohio, or Tennessee
  • Living in eastern Canada, Mexico, Central or South America, 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)
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
Diagnosis:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.

Tests may include:

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

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.
 
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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