Histoplasmosis (cont.)

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How is histoplasmosis prevented?

People living in endemic areas like the Ohio River Valley are likely to be exposed to histoplasmosis no matter what they do, since the fungus is likely in the dust in the air. However, if they are healthy, most people that get exposed or infected with H. capsulatum will be asymptomatic. Immunosuppressed (those with HIV or cancer or who are receiving chemotherapy for cancer) might reduce their chances of exposure if they live in endemic areas by avoiding high dust areas like construction sites. Soil can be decontaminated with 3% formalin under special circumstances. If people need to work in potential high exposure areas like caves, bridges, construction sites, chicken coops, or other areas where bird and bat droppings could be concentrated, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends using a Part 84 particulate respirator certified by NIOSH. Some investigators suggest that simply watering down soil will help prevent dust formation and reduce the chance of exposure.

There is no vaccine for histoplasmosis. In some cases, H. capsulatum becomes dormant and may reactivate if the person becomes stressed or immunodepressed. Although people develop an immune response to histoplasmosis and recover with no complications, the response is not completely protective and the person can become reinfected with H. capsulatum.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for people with histoplasmosis?

About 90% of patients who acquire acute pulmonary histoplasmosis are asymptomatic, and about another 5%-7% who develop symptoms recover completely. Few may get acute pericarditis and pleural effusions. As the severity of the disease increases, the chance that lifelong problems may occur also increases. Patients with chronic pulmonary histoplasmosis usually develop (90%) cavities in the lungs that may reduce lung capacity and result in respiratory problems and increase the chances for a secondary lung infection. Progressive disseminated histoplasmosis has a grim prognosis (death in a few weeks to months) if appropriate treatment is not received. Even with appropriate treatment, some patients will experience relapses and may require antifungal medication for the rest of their life.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/11/2014

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Histoplasmosis - Signs and Symptoms Question: If you were diagnosed with histoplasmosis, at what point did you show symptoms? What were they?
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