BY DAKSHITA NAITHANI
Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection caused by Histoplasma capsulatum, a fungus. Spores suspended in the air by birds and bats are frequently the source of this illness. If the infection is limited to the lungs, it is not dangerous. It might be deadly if it spreads across the entire body. This condition mostly affects immune-compromised people, most of who are suffering from AIDS.
Histoplasma capsulatum is a soil microorganism that is frequently linked with decomposing sediments. Infectious elements are frequently released by disrupted soil particles, which are breathed by humans and settle into their lungs.
Histoplasmosis is often known as the Darlings’ disease, after Samuel Darling, who first found the virus in Panama.
Histoplasmosis is characterised by a high fever. The fungus Histoplasma causes no symptoms in the majority of persons who are exposed to it. Others may experience symptoms that subside on their own. Coughing: Fatigue (severe exhaustion): Chills: Headache: Body aches: Chest pain Histoplasmosis symptoms might emerge anywhere from 3-17 days after a person inhales the fungus spores. These symptoms usually fade away in a few weeks to a month for most people. However, some people’s symptoms might persist much longer, particularly if the condition is acute. Histoplasmosis can cause a long-term infection in certain individuals, especially those with compromised immune systems, or it can move from the lungs to other regions of the body, such as the central nervous system.
RISK AND PREVENTION
If you’ve been in a region where Histoplasma is present in the environment, you can acquire Histoplasmosis. It I s frequently linked to soil disturbance, specifically soil containing bird and bat droppings. Certain persons are more likely to acquire severe types than others:
People who have weakened immune systems, for example, people who:
- Are patients of HIV/AIDS
- Had an organ transplant
- Are taking medications such as corticosteroids or TNF-inhibitors
- Adults aged 55 and older
Histoplasmosis cannot be transmitted from one person to another or between humans and animals through the lungs. The illness can, however, be transferred through a transplant with an affected organ in exceedingly rare circumstances.
In regions where it is prevalent, it might be difficult to avoid breathing it in. People with compromised immune systems should avoid undertaking behaviours that are known to be linked with Histoplasmosis in locations where it is present, such as:
- Disturbing material where there are bird and bat droppings
- Cleaning chicken coops
- Exploring caves
- Cleaning, remodelling, and tearing down old buildings
Professional firms that specialise in the cleaning of hazardous material should clear up large volumes of bird and bat droppings.
TREATMENT AND DIAGONOSIS
Although direct diagnosis of Histoplasmosis (HP), one of the most common endemic mycoses in the world, is achieved by micro as well as macroscopic observation of Histoplasma capsulatum, serologic indication of this infection is important because etiologic agent isolation is time-consuming and unresponsive. To identify specific antibodies to H. capsulatum, a number of immunoassays have been utilised. Immuno-diffusion is the most often used technique for antibody detection, with a sensitivity of 70 -100 percent depending on the clinical form.
The complement fixation test, which was formerly widely employed, is less specific (60 – 90 percent). Immunoassays for detecting fungal antigens are particularly useful in patients with low immunity, with positive predicted results of 96–98%. The majority of modern diagnostic tests still use unpurified antigenic complexes derived from entire fungal cells or their culture filtrates. Clinical immunoassays employing highly pure and well-characterized antigens, including recombinant antigens, are now the focus.
For diagnosis doctors use your medical and travel history, symptoms, physical examinations, and laboratory testing. Taking a blood sample or a urine sample and submitting it to a facility is the most frequent way that healthcare practitioners test for Histoplasmosis.
Imaging studies, such as chest X-Rays or CT scans of lungs may be performed by your healthcare professional. A sample of fluid from your lungs is used or a tissue biopsy is performed, which involves taking a tiny sample of damaged tissue from your body and examining it under a microscope. Research facilities may also examine if Histoplasma may develop in bodily fluids or tissues.
Symptoms may go away without therapy in some persons. To treat severe infection in the lungs, persistent Histoplasmosis, and infections that have moved from the lungs to other areas of the body, prescription antifungal medicine is required. Antifungal medications like Itraconazole are widely used to treat Histoplasmosis. If you have a minor case treatment is typically not required. However, if your symptoms are severe, or if you have the chronic or disseminated type of the condition, you’ll almost certainly need antifungal medication. You may need to take medicines for three months to a year if you have a severe version of the condition.