What is Histoplasmosis?
What is Histoplasmosis?
Histoplasmosis refers to a type of infection caused by a fungus known as Histoplasma. This fungus strives in an environment, specifically in soil, that encompasses large amounts of bird and bat droppings. People who are infected with histoplasmosis get it from breathing in microscopic spores from the air, usually a result of airborne conditions during demolitions.
Some people with histoplasmosis don’t get sick; however, for some who become ill, they experience fever, cough, and fatigue. Additionally, the condition is more severe in people with weakened immune systems, especially those diagnosed with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
What are the symptoms of histoplasmosis?
Some people infected with Histoplasma never experience being sick. However, for people who are greatly affected, the following symptoms are as follows:
- Fever or chills
- Dry cough
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Chest pain
- Body aches
Although rare, symptoms like joint pain and skin rashes can also happen in people with histoplasmosis. Additionally, if they have a lung disease, they can develop chronic histoplasmosis. Signs of the said long-term condition include weight loss and coughing with blood.
Risk factors of histoplasmosis
So, who gets histoplasmosis? Well, anyone can get the infection, especially if they live or have visited an area where Histoplasma strives. The following individuals are at risk of getting the infection:
- Construction workers
- Pest control workers
- Demolition workers
Who is most at risk for it? As mentioned, one of the reasons why histoplasmosis becomes severe is because of weakened body immunity. People who are directly associated with this circumstance are those with HIV. In other words, people with HIV are at higher risk for histoplasmosis infection.
What makes histoplasmosis and HIV interrelated? It all sums up to the weakening of the immune system. The most advanced stage of HIV is AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). When AIDS develops, opportunistic infections emerge, one of which is histoplasmosis. Having histoplasmosis may worsen the health stability of someone with HIV or AIDS. However, if they are observing antiretroviral therapy, they can lower their risk of histoplasmosis or even prevent it from happening in the future.
How to prevent it?
Preventing histoplasmosis can be difficult, especially if someone lives or has immense exposure to the fungus that causes the infection. However, these simple steps can lower the infection rate:
- Avoid activities or projects that expose you to the fungus Histoplasma.
- Before digging soil or working in an area that may have Histoplasma, soak it with water or spray it with clean solutions to help prevent the spores from flying into thin air.
- Always wear a mask when doing activities or projects that increases your risk for histoplasmosis acquisition.
Treatment with histoplasmosis for some people may not be necessary as the infection vanishes on its own. However, if medical care is of absolute need, your healthcare professional will prescribe you antifungal medications.