Infectious Diseases 2022

Histoplasmosis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

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Histoplasmosis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment
Histoplasmosis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

Histoplasmosis is a systemic infection caused by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum, which can be transmitted by pigeons and bats, mainly. Histoplasmosis is more common and more severe in people who have a reduced immune system, such as people with AIDS or who have had a transplant, for example.

Contamination by the fungus happens when inhaling the fungi present in the environment and the symptoms vary according to the amount of spores inhaled, and there may be fever, chills, dry cough and difficulty breathing, for example.

Treatment should be done according to the doctor's recommendation, and the doctor usually recommends the use of antifungal drugs, such as Itraconazole and Amphotericin B, for example.

Histoplasmosis symptoms

In most cases, histoplasmosis does not lead to the appearance of signs or symptoms, because the immune system is able to naturally eliminate the fungus from the body. However, when a large amount of fungus enters the body and the person has a decrease in the activity of the immune system, symptoms can appear up to 3 weeks after contact with the virus, the main ones being:

  • Fever;
  • Chills;
  • Headache;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Dry cough;
  • Chest pain;
  • Excessive fatigue;
  • Weight loss;
  • Muscle pain

In the presence of histoplasmosis symptoms, it is important that the infectious disease specialist or general practitioner is consulted, as this way it is possible to conclude the diagnosis and start the treatment to avoid the progression of the disease and possible complications.

When histoplasmosis is not identified and treated, there is a risk of the fungus spreading to other organs and resulting in the disseminated form of the disease, which can be fatal and can be characterized by enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver and spleen.

Cause of histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis is caused by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum, which enter the body through the inhalation of particles containing the fungus released into the air when handling the soil or animal droppings, mainly bats and birds, such as pigeons and chicken.

This disease is more common in rural workers, as they come into frequent and direct contact with the soil, especially if they have some change in the immune system, such as transplantation or AIDS, for example, since in these cases the fungus can multiply and spread more easily.

How the diagnosis is made

The diagnosis of histoplasmosis should initially be made by the general practitioner or infectious disease specialist, based on the evaluation of the signs and symptoms presented by the person, risk of infection by the fungus and general he alth status.

To confirm the diagnosis, blood, urine or sputum tests can be performed with the aim of directly identifying the presence of the fungus or evaluating the presence of antigens or antibodies produced by the body against the fungus. In addition, a skin test can be performed to assess the reaction to histoplasmin, which is a protein present in Histoplasma capsulatum.

Furthermore, imaging tests may be indicated to assess the severity of the disease, that is, whether the fungus has managed to spread to other organs and cause lesions.

How the treatment is done

Treatment for histoplasmosis varies according to the severity of the infection. In the case of mild infections, the symptoms may disappear without the need for any treatment, however, the use of Itraconazole or Ketoconazole, for example, which should be used for 6 to 12 weeks according to the doctor's guidance, may be recommended..

In the case of more serious infections, the general practitioner or infectious disease specialist may indicate the use of Amphotericin B directly in the vein.

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