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You are here : AllRefer.com > Health > Diseases & Conditions > Histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis

Alternate Names : Ohio River Valley fever


Definition

Histoplasmosis is an infection due to the Histoplasma capsulatum fungus.

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection. It occurs throughout the world. In the United States, it is most common in the southeastern, mid-Atlantic, and central states.

The infection enters the body through the lungs. Histoplasma fungus grows as a mold in the soil, and infection results from breathing in airborne particles. Soil contaminated with bird or bat droppings may have a higher concentration of histoplasma.

There may be a short period of active infection, or it can become chronic and spread throughout the body.

Histoplasmosis may have no symptoms. Most people who do develop symptoms will have a flu-like syndrome and lung (pulmonary) complaints related to pneumonia or other lung involvement. Those with chronic lung disease (such as emphysema and bronchiectasis) are at higher risk of a more severe infection.

About 10% of people with histoplasmosis will develop inflammation (irritation and swelling) in response to the initial infection. This can affect the skin, bones or joints, or the lining of the heart (pericardium). These symptoms are not due to fungal infection of those body parts, but to the inflammation.

In a small number of patients, histoplasmosis may become widespread (disseminated), and involve the blood, meninges (outer covering of the brain), adrenal glands, and other organs. Very young or very old people, or those who have a weakened immune system (due to AIDS, cancer, or transplant, for example) are at higher risk for disseminated histoplasmosis.

Pictures & Images

Lungs
Lungs

Acute histoplasmosis
Acute histoplasmosis

Disseminated histoplasmosis
Disseminated histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis, disseminated in HIV patient
Histoplasmosis, disseminated in HIV patient

 
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Review Date : 9/28/2008
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.



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