South Dakota Department of Health
Office of Disease Prevention - 605-773-3737 — (1-800-592-1861 in South Dakota only)
This material is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute
for medical care. We are not able to answer personal medical questions. Please see your
health care provider concerning appropriate care, treatment or other medical advice.
What is histoplasmosis?
Histoplasmosis is a fungus infection that affects the lungs and may occasionally invade other parts of the body. It is an uncommon disease.
Who gets histoplasmosis?
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 play a role in spreading the disease.
How is histoplasmosis spread?
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 flu-like illness to serious lung infection.
How soon do symptoms appear?
Symptoms may appear within five to 18 days (usually 10 days) after exposure. However, most people do not experience symptoms.
Does past infection with histoplasmosis make a person immune?
Infection usually results in increased resistance to infection, although the immunity is not complete.
What is the treatment for histoplasmosis?
Specific medications such as Amphotericin B are available.
What can be done to prevent the spread of histoplasmosis?
Minimize exposure to dust in contaminated and enclosed environments such as chicken coops and their surrounding soil. Use of protective mask and spraying the area with water may be helpful in minimizing exposure to dust.