An infectious disease that is caused by the fungus known as Histoplasma capsulatum, Histoplasmosis is an infectious disease with symptoms that vary greatly from case to case. However, it can be said that Histoplasmosis generally affects the lungs. If the disease spreads from the lungs to other organs, the progressed stage of the disease is known as Disseminated Histoplasmosis. In this advanced form, the disease can be fatal without prompt treatment.
The fungus Histoplasma capsulatum is common in central and eastern parts of America. In such areas, approximately 80% of the population may test positive for traces of the fungus on the skin. Anyone can get Histoplasmosis, however, certain groups are at greater risk such as young children, infants, the elderly, and anyone with chronic conditions of the lung. Patients with AIDS or cancer are also more vulnerable to Disseminated Histoplasmosis.
Person to person transmission of Histoplasmosis does not occur. Infection with Histoplasma capsulatum occurs when spores are released into the air from the disturbance of contaminated soil. Soil becomes contaminated from droppings from infected birds and bats. The fungus Histoplasma capsulatum can be found all over the globe, including the United States. High risk areas are locations where poultry is farmed, bird roosts, caves, and bat habitats.
While the majority of Histoplasma capsulatum infection is asymptomatic, when the infection results in acute respiratory disease, clinical manifestations do occur. It takes an average of ten days after being exposed to infection for symptoms to manifest. Symptoms may include dry coughing, fever, feeling uneasy and unwell, and chest pains. Your doctor may find patterns through an x-ray of the chest. When infection results in chronic lung disease, indications may be similar to those of tuberculosis while worsening over time.
Without treatment, Histoplasmosis can be fatal if it spreads to various organs of the body. Fortunately, it is a treatable disease and there are antifungal medications available, even for severe cases of disseminated and chronic disease. If you have had an infection of Histoplasma capsulatum before, you may have developed a partial protection against symptoms of the disease. Prevention of Histoplasmosis requires avoiding high risk areas such as bird and bat habitats.