International travel and health

Histoplasmosis

Cause

Histoplasma capsulatum, a dimorphic fungus.

Transmission

Via inhalation of spores from soil contaminated with bat guano or bird droppings.

Nature of the disease

Most cases are asymptomatic. Some infections may cause acute pulmonary histoplasmosis, characterized by high fever, headache, non-productive cough, chills, weakness, pleuritic chest pain and fatigue. Most people recover spontaneously, but in some cases dissemination can occur, in particular to the gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system. Risk of dissemination is higher in severely immunocompromised individuals.

Geographical distribution

Worldwide.

Risk for travellers

Generally low except where the traveller may be exposed to bird droppings and bat guano. High-risk activities include spelunking, mining, and construction and excavation work.

Precautions

Avoid bat-inhabited caves. No vaccine available.

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