Histoplasmosis


Histoplasmosis: Quick Facts

  • The incidence of histoplasmosis in adults aged 65 years and older was 3.4 cases for every 100,000 persons.
  • Histoplasmosis was first discovered in the Canal Zone in Panama by a physician named Samuel Darling over a century ago.
  • capsulatumvar. capsulatum and H. capsulatum var. duboisii are the two types of the fungus Histoplasma that are pathogenic to humans.
  • The H. capsulatum var. capsulatum is usually found in North America and the H. capsulatum var. duboisii is usually found in Africa.
  • Histoplasmosis was in the past often described as the most common mycosis endemic to North America.
  • Histoplasmosis was initially thought to be endemic to a particular part of the world, but in recent years has been increasingly found in many areas of the world.

What is histoplasmosis?

Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by the Histoplasma fungus and generally affects your lungs. It is generally found in the environment, particularly in soil that contains bat or bird droppings. According to studies, in areas where there have been chicken coops, the soil will retain the fungus for many years after the area has been cleared. This is why you must always use professionals to clear the place if you plan to live there. Caves that contain bat droppings or guano are equally highly contaminated with the Histoplasma fungus.

Outbreaks of histoplasmosis have involved anywhere from a handful of people to as many as tens of thousands have been recorded in studies. It could lasts for a few weeks to a month, or even more depending on the severity of the symptoms.

 It is common in the central and eastern states of the United States, particularly Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. There have been infections locally acquired in other areas of the United States as well. Outside the United States, it is also found in areas of central and South America, Australia, Asia, and Africa.

People are infected when they breathe in the fungal spores that drift through the air. The fungal spores travel to the lungs, and the person’s body temperature allows the fungal spores to transform into yeast. The yeast then travels to the lymph nodes. Once it reaches there, it can reach other organs of the body through the bloodstream.

Not all people who breathe in the spores will get the disease. However, if you are unlucky enough to get it, it could lead to fever, cough, and fatigue. In many cases, people do get better without any kind of treatment. However, in some cases, it can spread to other parts of the body and the infection can get serious. This might require hospitalization and treatment.

Symptoms of histoplasmosis

The symptoms of histoplasmosis can manifest up to as late as 17 days after the inhalation of the fungal spores. They can be evident in as little as three days. The symptoms are generally those of flu. The symptoms are:

How long does histoplasmosis last?

Histoplasmosis lasts for anywhere between a few weeks to a month. If your symptoms are severe, histoplasmosis could last longer than that. This is when the lung infection is severe or when histoplasmosis spreads to other parts of the body. In such cases, it generally affects the central nervous system, particularly the brain and the spinal cord. In the case of severe histoplasmosis, you will need hospitalization and further medical care.

Risk factors for Histoplasmosis

Generally, anyone who is exposed to bird and bat droppings can get histoplasmosis. Sometimes it could be your occupation and at other times, your children might be playing in such soil. However, the risk is higher in certain groups for various reasons. Some of these are:

Weakened immune system

HIV AIDS

The immune system of the individual may be weakened due to some diseases like HIV-AIDS. In such cases, the lungs can be easily infected with histoplasmosis. There is a risk of the disease spreading to other parts of the body as well.

Organ transplant

Sometimes, if the patient has had an organ transplant, the immune system will be weak following the surgery. In such cases also, histoplasmosis can develop after the inhalation of the spores.

In rare cases, it is also possible that the patient may receive an organ infected with histoplasmosis. In such cases also, he would get the disease. It could also spread to other organ systems of the body later.

Taking certain medications

If the person has been taking medications for other ailments, there is a risk of developing histoplasmosis due to the weakening of the immune system because of them. Some of these drugs are corticosteroids, TNF-inhibitors, etc.

Infants

Studies show that infants are more susceptible to the illness than others. This could possibly also be because their immune system not being strong enough. Other reasons could also be attributed to it.

 Adults over 55 years of age

Studies show that adults who are over 55 years of age are also more vulnerable to the disease than others. This could again be a case of a weakened immune system with age or other age-related factors. More studies need to be conducted in this age group affected by histoplasmosis to find out why.

Can your pet get histoplasmosis?

Histoplasmosis can spread to your pets in the same way as it does for humans. Since your pets would be more exposed to the soil, they are at a greater risk of developing histoplasmosis. This is because this way they would be more exposed to the droppings of birds and bats. However, many cats and dogs that are exposed to the fungus never actually get the disease. There are no known instances of birds getting histoplasmosis. You would be concerned about your pet having contracted the infection. So do contact a veterinarian immediately. The symptoms that are present are flu-like symptoms—coughing, lack of energy, and fatigue.

How is histoplasmosis diagnosed?

You can expect your doctor to begin with a few questions and examinations. Your doctor may ask you if you have traveled recently. He might also ask you about your medical history. He will careful note your symptoms and the results from imaging and laboratory tests to arrive at a diagnosis. The laboratory tests that he would recommend for histoplasmosis would be a blood test and a urine test.

The imaging tests that are conducted generally are CT scans of the lungs or chest X-rays. Fluid may be collected from your respiratory tract and a tissue biopsy may also be performed. A tissue biopsy involves the harmless removal of a very small amount of tissue for observation under a microscope. Apart from these imaging tests, he may try to grow the yeast from the Histoplasma in a culture. A culture could take a couple of weeks whereas the results of laboratory tests will be obtained in a few days.

Treatment for histoplasmosis

As discussed, for many people the symptoms of histoplasmosis go away on their own. All the patient needs to do is:

Severe cases of the disease are treated by antifungal medication. Severe instances include chronic histoplasmosis, disseminated histoplasmosis, and ocular histoplasmosis.

Chronic Histoplasmosis

If you have a lung disease, such as emphysema, there is a risk that you could develop a chronic form of histoplasmosis. Signs of chronic histoplasmosis include cough that brings up blood and weight loss. Those with chronic histoplasmosis will be taking antifungal medications such as amphotericin and itraconazole.

These medications will destroy the fungus but will affect the function of both the kidney and the liver. This means that the patient will need to go in for a check-up with the doctor regularly. If there is any impact on the functioning of the liver or the kidney, the doctor will perform appropriate treatment or recommend medications for the same.

Disseminated Histoplasmosis

This is the most severe form of histoplasmosis. It can affect any part of your body including the skin, mouth, adrenal glands, liver, and the central nervous system. The typical symptoms are fever and pancytopenia (reduction of red and white blood cells and platelets). People with disseminated histoplasmosis will require oxygen support during their hospitalization. They may also be administered antifungal medications intravenously to treat the histoplasmosis as well. The doctor also needs to address the underlying immunosuppression that is also present.

Ocular histoplasmosis

In ocular histoplasmosis, the Histoplasma fungus travels from the lungs to the choroid (blood vessels in the retina) and is lodged there. There is damage to the vision of the individual. It is not possible to restore the vision in any way, but it may be possible to prevent further damage to the retina. In order to do this a type of laser based on the principle of photocoagulation is used. Photocoagulation is the process of the use of a laser to coagulate and eventually destroy small areas of the tissue or fuse them together. In this case, the damaged tissue in the retina is removed by laser. This helps any further damage to the retina and further degradation of vision.

Complications of Histoplasmosis

Acute respiratory distress syndrome

In severe cases of histoplasmosis, acute respiratory distress syndrome develops. Acute respiratory distress syndrome happens when fluid fills the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. These air sacs generally contain oxygen. This means that lesser oxygen then enters the bloodstream. Eventually, this deprives the organs of necessary oxygen.

Heart function issues

The inflammation of the lungs and the filling of fluid in them affect the functioning of the heart as well. In addition, the yeast starts to form in the heart valve tissue, which also affects the overall functioning of the heart.

Damage to adrenal glands

The adrenal glands are endocrine glands that produce a number of important hormones, two of which are adrenaline and cortisol. Histoplasmosis can cause damage to the adrenal glands and this could in turn affect the production of hormones.

Meningitis

Histoplasmosis can cause meningitis. Meningitis is a viral infection that involves the swelling of the membrane around your brain and spinal cord (meninges).

Prevention of Histoplasmosis

In areas where the fungus is common, such as the central and eastern parts of the United States, it is easier to get the disease. This is because you are bound to breathe in the air containing the fungal spores. If you are a person who has a weakened immune system, you must be very careful.

The immune system may be weakened because of diseases such as HIV-AIDS. It could also happen if the person has been taking medications such as corticosteroids and TNF inhibitors or had a recent organ transplant. As discussed earlier, children and adults over 55 years of age must also be careful. If you are at risk of getting histoplasmosis, then you must avoid certain activities. These include:

  • Soil disturbing activities such as digging or chopping wood
  • Cleaning of chicken nesting sites
  • Tearing down and rebuilding of structures or buildings
  • Exploration of caves

Before moving to a place that may have the Histoplasma fungus, it is a good idea to get a professional company which deals with hazardous waste to clean up the place. They will be trained in how to deal with the bat and bird droppings in a safe manner and dispose of them in a responsible manner.

Final words

Histoplasmosis is a disease that requires medical care and hospitalization if the symptoms are severe. If they are not, the disease usually disappears with proper care at home. It is recommended that you consult a doctor if the flu-like symptoms of the disease turn severe.

A doctor will not only be able to diagnose the extent of damage the disease has caused but also suggest a suitable means of treatment. You can be expected to be cured in a month’s time with proper care in most cases. In some cases, the treatment may be extended to a few months or even a year, which is very rare.

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Clear the area with bird and bat droppings by making use of professional cleaning services.
  • Share your medical and travel history and the list of medications you take with your doctor without fail.
  • Get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids.
Don'ts
  • Work in areas that have soils with bat or bird droppings without facemasks.
  • Explore caves as they would be having a lot of bat droppings that could easily cause an infection.
  • Take over-the-counter medications without consulting a doctor, especially if you have a medical condition.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

anal sex
Anal Sex : Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
Penis pump: Pump your way out of erectile dysfunction One of the options to treat erectile dysfunction is by the use of a penis pump. It is…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
Top natural diuretics: The instant benefits you can get from nature’s water pills Since diuretic drugs are known to cause side effects, it is better to choose a natural diuretic that…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
TBHQ: A carcinogen lingering in your child’s favorite snacks TBHQ - Why you should shun the practice of eating instant noodles or microwave popcorn to get rid…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
Latest findings on Kombucha; a teacup full of yeast and bacteria How can a tea consisting of a live culture of bacteria & fungi be healthy? With Kombucha, you…
about mediterranean diet
Why you should be adopting a Mediterranean style of diet today Ever wondered why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy? One simple solution to lowering risk of several deadliest…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
How can Kegels help you overcome weak pelvic muscles & incontinence? Kegel exercises are pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can help you overcome incontinence issues that rise out of…
Coconut oil woman
Coconut Oil: How one oil dominates the kitchen and the medicine kit too Coconut oil has been a favorite in many Asian kitchens. But more than a cooking oil, coconut oil…
Benefits of exercise: Top reasons why you should be sweating it out more in the gym Are you leading a sedentary life and still not motivated enough to get up from your couch and…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why not try the…
Melatonin: Fascinating facts on the hormone that brings you the Zzzs Did you know, melatonin - the chemical that puts you to sleep every night is also involved in…
The science behind daith piercing: Can it really cure migraine? Since the ear has several pressure points, it is believed that daith piercing activates the vagus nerve and…
TRX: Why is this total resistance workout the best choice for your body? TRX or total resistance exercise is a form of exercise where suspension belts are used to produce that…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
paleo keto diet
Paleo vs. Keto: Which diet plan is best suited for your body goals? Is eating like a caveman the right way to go? Can you really eat fats to burn fats…
Improve sex life
9 best tips from around the world for better sex life How can the pungent-smelling garlic pack in a punch to your libido? How could something as slimy as…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
Lectin: The common link of proteins between peas and people Lectins are a type of protein that are found majorly in legumes. Most people are find it easy…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Hemp Seeds: The actual science behind this controversial crop Inspite of being credited as a superfood, hemp seeds are still shrouded with layers of controversies. Are these…
PiYo (Pilates + Yoga): Bringing you the best of both the worlds PiYo exercise routine was formulated for people who find it tedious and grueling exercise regimens such as extensive…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the dream food that…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
erectile dysfunction treatment
Erectile Dysfunction: Effective tips to help you get back on charge Erectile dysfunction is a common male sexual dysfunction. Don't stress out. Just follow these amazing tips to get…
Vitamin B12: The unknown repercussions of this nutrient deficiency Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamine; involved in the development of red blood cells in the bone marrow.…
The real reason why you shouldn’t be eating ramen noodles Instant ramen noodles might be your go-to snack for your hunger pangs. But with each spoonful you are…
Lauric Acid: 8 health benefits you can derive from coconuts Appropriate use of saturated fats containing lauric acid can provide you numerous health benefits. This is the main…
Cranberry: Top reasons why you should grow this “superfruit” in your own backyard Cranberry is a favorite among foodies and health enthusiasts alike. Read more on how it can benefit your…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
Female Masturbation: Tips on how to turn up the heat during a solo mission As a female, do you find yourself constantly wondering as to what is the best way to please…
Burpees: World’s most challenging fitness routine now made simple for you The majority of the fitness regimens mainly concentrate on a particular muscle group whereas Burpees is s whole…
Surgery or home-remedy; what is the right way to treat a burn The treatment of a burn injury depends on its severity. You can save a life by offering the…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
Trisodium Phosphate: How a paint thinner made its way into your breakfast Ever thought how toxic chemicals find their way into our foods? How can they harm our body? And…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
Fibromyalgia fatigue
HCG Diet: The dangers of using this diet to lose weight HCG is a natural hormone produced by both men and women that corresponds to fertility. But how is…
What is the average penis size and why should you care? Scientifically speaking, the average size of the penis depends on numerous factors such as genes, environmental circumstances, etc.
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
collagen benefits skin
Collagen: Get age-defying skin and faster hair growth with this miracle protein Collagen – Wrinkle-free skin, stronger nails, and thicker locks – now you have more reasons to eat these…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga over them? Are…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
Anticholinergics: The diverse range of diseases a single drug can easily treat What started as a novel treatment for Parkinson' disease has now become an all-encompassing drug. What all can…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
Orgasms: How to perfect the art of achieving intense bursts of pleasure (every time!) Orgasms are dependent not just on the sexual activity but on your partner as well. What you must…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic Resistance: How common diseases become deadly Can a cold kill you? How important is to get a flu shot? Why do antibiotics fail against…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
castor oil hair
Castor oil : A vitamin-rich oil for shiny locks and healthy bowels Castor oil bestows unlimited benefits, whether you use it for your hair or skin. But did you know…
glutamine workout
Glutamine: Why is this the right choice for muscle-gain supplement? Glutamine can help you gain muscles and build higher immunity. Read more to find out how you can…
iron food shellfish
Iron-Rich Foods: Eat these foods to keep fatigue and anemia away! How to ensure a muscles as strong as iron? Eat iron rich foods ! Iron is one of…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
calorie counter
Calorie Counter: Count your calories before they flab Is calorie counting good? Are calories always bad for you? How do you if you are getting enough…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
L-arginine: Your search for the ultimate fitness booster ends here L-arginine is an amino acid necessary for the body to perform various functions.  It is essential in producing…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
CLA: A breakthrough weight loss supplement with minimal side effects Tried every weight loss supplement in the market with no substantial gain? Why not try CLA supplements, derived…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
The Vegan Diet: The benevolent way of eating that wins hearts (and tummies) The vegan diet involves fauna-friendly outlook towards food. Could the diet that hopes to balance everything based on…
The complete fitness guide on how to perform Tabata This fitness routine is called Tabata workouts, which is named after Dr. Izumi Tabata who developed this intensive…
Burn those years of stubborn fat-deposits with a few minutes of HIIT! HIIT or high-intensity interval training seems to be the right type of fitness training that is required where…