Histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis is defined as an infection which occurs from breathing in the spores of the fungus histoplasma capsulatum. Histoplasmosis also known as cave disease, darling’s disease, ohio valley disease, reticuloendotheliosis, spelunker’s lung and caver’s disease.

Age/sex prevalence of Histoplasmosis

Individuals with chronic lung disease such as emphysema and bronchiectasis are at higher risk of a more severe infection.

Races affected by Histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis occurs throughout the world. In United States, it is most common in the southeastern, mid atlantic and central states.

Causes of Histoplasmosis

Histoplasma fungus grows as a mold in the soil. Individual may get sick when you breathe in spores produced by fungus. Soil which contain bird or bat droppings may have larger amount of fungus. The threat of infection is high after an old building is torn down or in caves.

Sign and symptoms of Histoplasmosis

Sign and symptoms presented by the patient of histoplasmosis are as follows
• Fever and chills.
• Chest pain and cough gets worse with deep breathing.
• Mouth sores
• Pain in joint
• Red skin bumps called erythema nodosum occurs most often on the lower legs.

The infection may be active for a short period of time and then after that symptoms go away. In some cases lung infection may become long-term. Symptoms may include:
• Shortness of breath and chest pain
• Cough, possibly coming up with blood.
• Fever and sweating

In very rare cases histoplasmosis spread throughout the body, causing irritation and swelling in response to infection. Symptoms may include
• Headache and stiffness neck from swelling in the covering of the brain and spinal cord.
• High fever
• Chest pain from swelling in the lining around the heart.

Investigations of Histoplasmosis

Investigations to be done are as follows
Histoplasmosis is diagnosed by
• Blood and urine tests to detect histoplasmosis proteins or antibodies
• Biopsy of the lung, skin, liver or bone marrow.
• Cultures of the blood, urine or sputum.

Other tests to be done are as follows
• Chest CT scan
• Bronchoscopy
• Chest x-ray
• Spinal tap to look for signs of infection in cerebrospinal fluid

Treatment of Histoplasmosis

Antifungal medicines are given and need to be given through vein, depending upon the form or stage of disease.

Complications of Histoplasmosis

Scarring in the chest cavity may trap:
• The heart itself
• The major blood vessels carrying blood to and from the heart
• The esophagus
• The lymph nodes
Enlargement of lymph nodes may lead to pressure on other body parts such as esophagus and blood vessels of the lungs.

Prognosis of Histoplasmosis

The outlook depends on how severe the infection is, and the patient’s health. Some people get better without treatment. An active infection will usually go away with antifungal medicine, but there may be scarring left inside the lung.
The death rate is higher for people with untreated widespread (disseminated) histoplasmosis whose immune system is not working well.

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