Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
The infection results from inhaling airborne spores of the fungus.
The fungus is common in the U.S. in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys and
is often found in soil contaminated by bird or bat droppings.
Most people who
are exposed to the fungus do not develop the disease.
The disease is most
severe in people with reduced immune function.
Symptoms of histoplasmosis are
similar to those of pneumonia.
Mild cases of histoplasmosis do not require
specific treatment; more severe or disseminated infections require antifungal
There is no vaccine available to prevent histoplasmosis.
What is histoplasmosis?
Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by an infection with a fungus known as
Histoplasma capsulatum, which is found in the environment, most frequently in
association with bird or bat droppings. The infection can cause a lung disease
similar to pneumonia in some people. In some cases, the infection spreads
throughout the body, known as disseminated disease. Disseminated histoplasmosis
is most common in people with weakened immune systems, such as those with
HIV/AIDS, those receiving cancerchemotherapy, or people taking immune-suppressant medications for chronic conditions or transplants. Spread to other
organs in immunosuppressed people may involve the liver, spleen, brain, joints,
eyes, and bone marrow.
Most infected persons have no apparent ill effects. The acute respiratory disease is characterized by respiratory symptoms, a general ill feeling, fever, chest pains, and a dry or nonproductive cough. Distinct patterns may be seen on a chest x-ray. Chronic lung disease resembles tuberculosis and can worsen over months or years. The disseminated form is fatal unless treated.