What is Histoplasmosis?

Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection caused by the organism Histoplasma capsulatum. It is found in soil that contains bird or bat droppings. The infection is relatively common, and is usually mild and self-limited, but can sometimes cause serious or life-threatening illness.

What are the Symptoms of Histoplasmosis?

Symptoms of histoplasmosis may include: fever, chills, cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, appetite loss, weight loss, headache, muscle aches, joint pains, and night sweats. In severe cases, the infection can spread to other organs in the body, including the eyes, gastrointestinal tract, liver, and skin.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Histoplasmosis

Diagnosis of histoplasmosis is typically done by examining a sample of the patient’s blood or sputum for evidence of the organism. Occasionally, an X-ray or CT scan may be needed. Treatment is typically aimed at relieving symptoms and may include antifungal medications. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required.

Complications of Histoplasmosis

Complications of histoplasmosis can include chronic lung disease, meningitis, and inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis). In people with weakened immune systems, the infection can be more severe and potentially fatal.

Prevention of Histoplasmosis

To reduce the risk of contracting histoplasmosis, people should avoid activities that involve breathing in dust from soil contaminated by bird or bat droppings, such as cleaning out attics or other areas where the organisms may be present.