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Histoplasmosis

Definition

Histoplasmosis is an infection that usually affects the lungs.
Lungs
lungs and bronchioles
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Causes

Histoplasmosis is caused by a specific fungus. People often become infected when they inhale the fungus. The fungus can become airborne in dust or debris during demolition projects. People can also come in contact with the fungus through contact with soil contaminated with bat or bird droppings.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of exposure to histoplasmosis include:
Not everyone who comes in contact with the fungus will develop an infection. Medical conditions that weaken your immune system, like HIV , can increase your chance of infection.

Symptoms

Histoplasmosis does not generally cause symptoms. Symptoms that may occur include:

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your body fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
Pulmonary function tests and x-rays may be done to see how much your lungs have been affected.

Treatment

The immune system can often remove the fungus. People who do not have symptoms or those who have mild symptoms do not need treatment.
Antifungal medication may be needed if symptoms last for more than 1 month.
If you have a suppressed immune system, like HIV, you may need life-long antifungal medication. The medication will help to prevent a recurrence 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:

RESOURCES

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases http://www.niaid.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References

Histoplasmosis. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/histoplasmosis.html. Updated March 2014. Accessed December 22, 2014.

Histoplasmosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/histoplasmosis. Updated September 25, 2014. Accessed December 22, 2014.

Histoplasmosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 17, 2014. Accessed December 22, 2014.

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