Histoplasmosis and Cleanup of Bird,
Bat, Rodent and Animal Feces
Histoplasmosis is a fungal
infection that affects the lungs and may occasionally invade other parts of the body. It
is an uncommon disease. In 1999, there were 15 cases reported among New York City
residents (rate of 0.2 cases per 100,000 persons).
Anyone can get
histoplasmosis. It is recognized more often in immunocompromised individuals, such as AIDS
patients. Birds (especially chickens), bats, dogs, cats, rats, skunks, opossum, foxes, and
other animals can get histoplasmosis and may have a role in spreading the disease.
The disease is acquired by
inhaling the spore stage of the fungus. Outbreaks may occur in groups with common
exposures to bird or bat droppings or recently disturbed, contaminated soil found in
chicken coops, caves, etc. Person-to-person spread of histoplasmosis does not occur.
What are the
symptoms of histoplasmosis?
Symptoms vary from mild to
severe, ranging from a flu-like illness to serious lung infections. In immunocompromised
patients, the disease may spread to the bone marrow, lungs, liver, and lymph nodes.
How soon after
infection do symptoms appear?
Symptoms may appear within
5 to 18 days (usually 10 days) after exposure. However, most people do not experience any
Does past infection with
the fungus make a person immune?
Infection usually results in increased protection against repeat infection, although the
immunity is not complete.
diagnosed by isolating the fungus from body fluids or tissues, visualizing the fungus
under the microscope, or by an antibody test.
What is the
treatment for histoplasmosis?
Specific treatments, such
as amphotericin B, are available for patients with severe illness.
can histoplasmosis be prevented?
to dust in contaminated and enclosed environments, such as chicken coops and their
surrounding soil. Use a protective mask and spray the area with water to minimize exposure
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