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Diseases reference index «Histoplasmosis - disseminated»

Disseminated histoplasmosis is a fungal infection that occurs after inhaling the spores of the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum.

See also:

  • Histoplasmosis
  • Histoplasmosis - acute
  • Histoplasmosis - chronic pulmonary
  • Skin lesion of histoplasmosis

Causes

Histoplasmosis is caused by a fungus found in the central and eastern United States (Mississippi and Ohio River Valley), eastern Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Most cases are mild or without symptoms. Acute pulmonary histoplasmosis may occur in epidemics after heavy exposure. Progressive or spreading (disseminated) and chronic disease can also occur. In disseminated disease, the infection has spread to other organs from the lungs through the bloodstream.

The liver and spleen are usually enlarged, and any body organ may be involved. Ulcerations of the mouth or gastrointestinal tract may occur. Risk factors are travel to or residence within the central or eastern United States, and exposure to the droppings of birds and bats.

Symptoms

  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Mental status changes
  • Muscle aches and stiffness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Possible rash (erythema nodosum)
  • Skin lesions
  • Visual changes (chorioretinitis)

Exams and Tests

A physical examination may show abnormalities throughout the body.

Tests used to diagnose disseminated histoplasmosis may include:

  • Abdominal CT scan
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Biopsy or culture of affected organs, bone marrow, liver, lymph node, lung, or skin
  • Blood cultures
  • Chest x-ray
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Histoplasma urinary antigen test
  • MRI scan of the affected organs

Treatment

Doctors prescribe antifungal medications to control the infection. Most patients should be treated for a year or more. Those who have suppressed immune systems (for example, from AIDS) may need lifelong treatment.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The disease may progress rapidly and death can occur.

Possible Complications

Multiple organs are affected.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of disseminated histoplasmosis, particularly if you have been recently treated for acute or chronic histoplasmosis.

Emergency symptoms include mental status changes and rapid worsening of the condition.

Prevention

Avoiding travel to areas where this spore is found can prevent the disease, but this may not be practical. Avoid bird or bat droppings if you are in one of these areas, especially if you are immunosuppressed.

Alternative Names

Systemic histoplasmosis

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