Histoplasmosis lung infections prevalent throughout the US: a study
The fungus that causes the disease known as histFrplasma is in the soil of nearly every US state, a new study suggests. The researchers behind the work say doctors may be relying on outdated risk maps and therefore miss diagnoses of infections, which can sometimes be fatal.
According to CDC, histoplasma, or histo, is found in the soil of central and eastern US states, primarily in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. But that assumption is based on research from the 1950s and 1960s, says the team behind the new paper published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. When a person inhales fungal spores, they can get an infection called histoplasmosis.
“Every few weeks I get a call from a doctor in the Boston area — a different doctor each time — about a case I can’t solve,” said study author Andrej Spec, an associate professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. , u Media Release. “They always start by saying, ‘We don’t have a histo here, but it really kind of looks like a histo.’ I say, ‘You keep calling me about this. You have a history.’”
Lead author Patrick B. Mazi, a clinical fellow in infectious diseases also at Washington University in St. Louis. Louis, and colleagues analyzed more than 45 million Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries between 2007 and 2016. They reviewed nationwide diagnoses of three fungal diseases: histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, and blastomycosis. Histo, the most common, caused clinically relevant rates of disease in at least one county in 48 of the 50 states, as well as Washington, DC. The other two infections were found in more than half of the states.
“Yeast infections are much more common than people think, and they spread,” Spec said in a statement. “The scientific community has underinvested in the study and development of treatments for yeast infections. I think that is starting to change, but slowly.” Climate change can be driving this is spreading as warming temperatures make more habitat suitable for fungi.
While histo can be easily fought in healthy adults, and many people who are exposed never develop symptoms, those who are immunocompromised, as well as infants and people over 55 can develop more serious illnesses, including cough, fever, chest pain, body aches and fatigue, according to at the CDC. Symptoms appear within three to 17 days after exposure; most symptoms will disappear within a month, but if it spreads from the lungs, the disease can become serious and require months of treatment.
Humans can be exposed to histo and other fungal pathogens through activities that disturb the soil, such as agriculture, landscaping, and construction. They can be exposed inside caves and when working in basements and attics. Spec noted, “It’s important for the medical community to understand that these fungi are everywhere today and that we need to take them seriously and include them in diagnostic considerations.”
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