Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Histoplasmosis is afungal infection that usually affects the lungs.
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.
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, cancer treatment, or having an organ transplant can increase your chance of infection.
Histoplasmosis does not generally cause symptoms. Symptoms that may occur include:
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
may be done to see how much your lungs have been affected.
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.
If you might be exposed to bird or bat droppings, wear a face mask.
If you have a weakened immune system, completely avoid:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Public Health Agency of Canada
Histoplasmosis. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/histoplasmosis.html. Updated March 2014. Accessed November 16, 2015.
Histoplasmosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/histoplasmosis. Updated August 15, 2014. Accessed November 16, 2015.
Histoplasmosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115093/Histoplasmosis. Updated August 28, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
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