Histoplasmosis lung infections are prevalent across the United States: a study






Histoplasma fungi, which causes lung infections, was concentrated in the Midwest in the 1950s and 1960s (top map), but now causes significant disease in much of the country (bottom).

Histoplasma fungi, which causes lung infections, was concentrated in the Midwest in the 1950s and 1960s (top map), but now causes significant disease in much of the country (bottom).
Draw: Patrick Mazey and Andre Speck/University of Washington

A disease-causing fungus known as histaA new study finds that plasma is present in the soil of nearly all US states. The researchers behind the work say doctors may be relying on outdated risk maps and so miss diagnosing infections, which can sometimes be fatal.


According to the Center for Disease ControlHistoplasma, or Histo, is found in the soils of the central and eastern states of the United 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 research paper Published in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases. When a person breathes in spores of the fungus, they can develop an infection called histoplasmosis.

“I get a call every few weeks from a doctor in the Boston area — a different doctor each time — about a condition they can’t resolve,” said study author Andrej Spec, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. , in press release. “They always start out by saying, ‘We don’t have a date here, but it really sounds like histo. ‘ I say, ‘You call me all the time about this. You have a history.'”

Lead author Patrick P. Mazey, a clinical fellow in infectious diseases at Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues analyzed more than 45 million Medicare fee-for-service recipients spanning from 2007 through 2016. They studied nationwide diagnoses of three fungal diseases Histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, and mycosis. Histo, the most common, was causing clinically relevant disease rates in at least one county in 48 of the 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. Two other infections were found in more than half of the states.

“Fungal infections are more common than people realize, and they spread,” Space said in the statement. The scientific community has underinvested in the study and development of treatments for fungal infections. I think that is starting to change, but slowly.” It might be climate change Leadership This spread is because higher temperatures make more habitats suitable for fungi.

While histoplasma can be easily fought off in healthy adults, many immunocompromised people as well as infants do not develop symptoms, and people age 55 or older may develop a more serious illness, including cough, fever, chest pain, and body aches. fatigue, depending to the Center for Disease Control. Symptoms appear within three to 17 days after exposure; Most symptoms will go away within a month, but if it spreads from a person’s lungs, the disease can become severe and require months of treatment.

People can be exposed to histoplasma and other fungal pathogens through activities that disrupt soils, such as farming, landscaping, and construction. It can also be detected inside caves and while working in basements and attics. Spec noted: “It’s important for the medical community to recognize that these fungi are basically ubiquitous these days and that we need to take them seriously and include them in diagnostic thinking.”

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