Histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection that develops when a person inhales airborne spores that contains fungus. This type of fungus is very common in the USA and more particular in the Mississippi river valleys. One can acquire this infection while handling the bird droppings that contain the fungus. Not all the people who are exposed to the spores develop histoplasmosis. This infectious disease produces pneumonia like symptoms. Mild form of infection needs no treatment and only severe forms are to be treated. Still no vaccine has been developed for histoplasmosis.

Symptoms :

There are several types of this fungal infection. Mostly there will not be any signs for people who are mildly affected. Moderate and severe forms would have symptoms like fever, chills, headache, muscle pain and dry cough. Initial symptoms begin to appear 3-15 days after exposure to fungus spores.

For severe cases it can cause discomfort in the chest and shortness of breath. Some people may also develop joint pain along with skin rashes. Chronic type of histoplasmosis can cause weight loss and persistent cough with bloody mucus. Infants and people with low immunity can easily develop histoplasmosis in severe form. If not treated early, it can cause death.

Causes :

The spores of the fungus by name Histoplasma capsulatum is the root cause for this infection. These spores can get easily transported through air and even birds can easily carry them. The spores can live safely in moist soil that contains the bird droppings or any organic material. Hence pigeon and chicken are more likely to develop this disease than other birds.

Who are at risk?

People with weakened immunity like infants and old people and those with chronic immune related disorders like AIDS or cancer can easily develop this fungal infection. Those who are using corticosteroids for long periods and those using TNF inhibitors are likely to get this disease.

People who work in the industry that deals with handling of soil and poultry are at high risk of getting histoplasmosis. In addition, farmers, construction workers, pest control agents, gardeners and cave explorers can also develop this infection while handling soil frequently.

Complications :

If left untreated in case of severe infection due to histoplasmosis, it can cause various life threatening complications like heart failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome, meningitis (brain fever) and serious infection of adrenal glands.

Diagnosis :

Many doctors can get confused with the symptoms of histoplasmosis since it resembles flu. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, your doctor may order for blood profile, urine test, bone marrow test and lung secretion test. Biopsy of the body fluids is done and tested on the lab to identify fungus in it.

Treatment :

Mild types of histoplasmosis do not need any treatment. For some people the infection is limited to specific organ. Antifungal drugs like sporanox or onmel or fluconazole are prescribed for this fungal infection. Amphotericin B is an effective drug given for many patients. One needs to complete the course of medication as suggested by the doctor.

Images, Pics, Photos and Pictures of Histoplasmosis :

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Prevention :

Those people who are handling soil and related medium should take precautions. Spraying antifungal medication on the damp soil can protect the person from developing this infection. If the person has a weakened immune system he/she should avoid getting exposed to contaminated soil that contains bird droppings. Wearing suitable mask on the face and suitable gloves on the hands can help in preventing the infection to large extent.

Outlook :

Most of the cases with histoplasmosis can become healthy by taking proper treatment. Only those with severe infection or with compromised immunity may develop complications and sometimes it becomes fatal.

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