Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by a fungus that grows as a mold in the soil, particularly soil contaminated with bird or bat droppings.
The infection enters the body through the lungs, when airborne particles are breathed in. Symptoms of histoplasmosis typically occur within two weeks of exposure. Some people will experience no symptoms to nonspecific flu-like symptoms, while others will experience more severe tuberculosis-like symptoms.
Chest pain and shortness of breath
Headache and neck pain
Skin lesions and rash
A small percentage of people with histoplasmosis will develop inflammation of the skin, bones, joints and even the lining of the heart. In some cases, the disease can become systemic and affect the blood, brain tissue, adrenal glands and other organs.
Diagnosis and treatment
Histoplasmosis is diagnosed by sputum, blood, and urine tests. The primary treatment for histoplasmosis is anti-fungal medications; additional medications may be prescribed depending on the severity of the disease and the parts of the body affected.
The best way to prevent histoplasmosis is by avoiding contaminated soil, most often found in chicken coops and bat caves. If you plan to be in these environments, wear protective masks to reduce your risk of inhaling the airborne fungi particles.