Skip to content
Font Size
A
A
A

Definition of Histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis: A disease caused by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. Most people with histoplasmosis have no symptoms. However, histoplasma can cause acute or chronic lung disease and progressive disseminated histoplasmosis affecting a number of organs. It can be fatal if untreated.

Positive skin tests to Histoplasma occur in as many as 80% of the people living in areas where the fungus is common, such as the eastern and central United States. Infants, young children, and older persons, in particular those with chronic lung disease, are at increased risk for severe disease. Disseminated disease is more frequently seen in people with cancer or AIDS or those on drugs that suppress the immune system, such as Remicade or steroids.

Recommended Related to Skin Problems & Treatments

Necrotizing Fasciitis (Flesh-Eating Bacteria)

Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare infection that's often described in media reports as a condition involving "flesh-eating bacteria." It can be fatal if not treated promptly. Necrotizing fasciitis spreads quickly and aggressively in an infected person. It causes tissue death at the infection site and beyond. Every year, between 600 and 700 cases are diagnosed in the U.S. About 25% to 30% of those cases result in death. It rarely occurs in children.

Read the Necrotizing Fasciitis (Flesh-Eating Bacteria) article > >

The fungus grows in soil and material contaminated with bat or bird droppings. Spores become airborne when contaminated soil is disturbed. Breathing the spores causes infection. The disease is not transmitted from an infected person to someone else.

Symptoms start within three to 17 days after exposure; the average is 10 days. The acute respiratory disease is characterized by respiratory symptoms, a general ill feeling, fever, chest pains, and a dry or nonproductive cough. Distinct patterns may be seen on a chest X-ray. Chronic lung disease resembles tuberculosis and can worsen over months or years. The disseminated form is fatal, unless treated.

Mild cases resolve without treatment. Severe cases of acute histoplasmosis and all cases of chronic and disseminated disease are treated with antifungal medications, sometimes for life in those with compromised immune systems.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 29, 2013

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
psoriasis
Does your kid have symptoms?
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.