Histoplasmosis is a type fungus that is found in the soil, and contamination can lead to medical problems.  Histoplasma capsulatum is the fungal cause agent for this illness and is found in the soil, in the form of mold.  It can also be called, “Ohio River Valley Fever”.

Specific soils with increased amount of birds and bats droppings are a larger risk to cause infection. It can become airborne and can enter the airways through the Lungs.  This condition can be found worldwide. and is seen typically in climates that are tropical and/or near river valleys.

The condition can worsen when soils affected become part of clean up projects, demolitions projects, and even building projects. There are several different types – some more prone to causing symptoms than others.

In the United States the area most likely to be affected is around the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys. Many are exposed to the fugal infection but only a small portion have adverse symptoms. In a very small percentage of individuals – this fungus causes a more widespread infection.

Histoplasmosis may include infection in the blood, (Brain), and other organs. This is referred to as “disseminated histoplasmosis”

HIV patients and other immunocompromised patients are at increased risk of “disseminated histoplasmosis”.

A more serious form often affects the young and immunocompromised.

Those at Risk:

1.)  Farmers
2.)  Construction workers
3.)  Poultry Workers
4.)  Pest Control Workers
5.)  Cave Explorers
6.)  Adventurists
7.)  Others

Symptoms of Histoplasmosis:

When symptoms to occur – they usually start anywhere from 3-17 days after exposure.

–  Most patients have no symptoms
–  Cough
–  Fever
–  Chills
–  Headache
–  Fatigue
–  Weakness
–  Some experience pneumonia with symptoms for months on end.
–  Joint pain
–  Chest pain
–  Mouth sores

When to See a Doctor?

When symptoms worsen and you are aware of recent soil exposure with bat droppings. If you are immunocompromised with significant flu like symptoms.

Prevention:

1.)  Avoidance:  Be mindful of areas that you work, or that could be contaminated. Avoid caves with heavy bat population if you are at risk.

2.)  Water:  Place water on dry soil, risky areas, etc. This will prevent some of the increased dust particles. Such areas as barns, chicken coops, outdoor soils, etc.

3.)  Face Mask: Use facial protection as a barrier to breathing in dust. Use mask during cave exploring, cleaning, and handing of soils.

Treatment:

Antifungal medication

  –  Itraconazole
  –  Ketoconazole
  –  Amphotericin

 

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