What is Histoplasmosis?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. The fungus lives in the environment, usually in association with large amounts of bird or bat droppings. Lung infection can occur after a person inhales airborne, microscopic, fungal spores from the environment; however, many peoplee who inhale the spores do not get sick. The symptoms of histoplasmosis are similar to pneumonia, and the infection can sometimes become serious if it is not treated, especially if the infection spreads from the lungs to other organs.
Histoplasmosis may be divided into the following types:
- Primary pulmonary histoplasmosis
- Progressive disseminated histoplasmosis
- Primary cutaneous histoplasmosis
- African histoplasmosis
- Ocular histoplasmosis
Between 50% and 80% of people who live in areas where Histoplasma capsulatum is common in the environment will show evidence of having been exposed to the fungus at some point in their lifetime. In these areas, 10% to 25% of HIV-infected people will develop disseminated histoplasmosis.
Histoplasmosis is reportable in some states, including Kentucky, Minnesota, Illinois, Mississippi, Michigan, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. No national surveillance exists, so physicians should contact their local health department for information regarding reporting of histoplasmosis.