Avoid Diseases From Bird Droppings
HISTOPLAMOSIS: What is it?
Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. Its symptoms vary greatly, but the disease primarily affect the lungs. Occasionally, other organs are affected. This form of the disease is called disseminated histoplasmosis, and it can be fatal if untreated.
Can anyone get histoplasmosis?
Yes. Positive histoplasmin skin tests occur in as many as 80% of the people living in areas where H. capsulatum is common, such as the eastern and central United States. Infants, young children, and older persons, in particular those with chronic lung disease are at increased risk for severe disease. Disseminated disease is most frequent in people who have weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer or HIV/AIDS.
How is someone infected with H. capsulatum?
H.capsulatum grows in soil and material contaminated with bat or bird droppings. Spores become airborne when contaminated soil is disturbed. Breathing the spores causes infection.
What are the symptoms of histoplasmosis?
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.
What can be done to prevent histoplasmosis?
It is not practical to test or decontaminate most sites that may be contaminated with H. capsulatum, but the following precautions can be taken to reduce a person's risk of exposure: Avoid areas that may harbor the fungus, e.g., accumulations of bird or bat droppings.
CRYPTOCOCCUS INFECTION: What is it?
Cryptococcosis (Krip-toe-coc-o-sis) is a fungal disease caused by Cryptococcus neoformans or Cryptococcus gattii. Most people do not get sick with cryptococcosis, but some people are more likely than others to get this disease. For these people, cryptococcosis can cause serious symptoms of lung, brain and spinal cord disease, such as headaches, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and night sweats.
Can animals transmit cryptococcosis to me?
Not directly. Cryptococcus neoformans is found in the droppings of wild birds (such as pigeons). When dried bird droppings are stirred up, this can make dust containing Cryptococcus neoformans go into the air. People can stir up this dust and then breathe
it in when they work, play, or walk in areas where birds have been. Pets, such as dogs and cats, can also get sick with cryptococcosis
from this dust, but people do not get cryptococcosis from dogs and cats. Cryptococcus gattii lives in the soil and areas on or around trees. Animals and humans can get it by breathing it in around areas where Cryptococcus gattii is found, but animals and humans cannot give the disease to each other. A person's age and health status may affect his or her immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick. People who are more likely than others to get Cryptococcus neoformans infection include organ transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS, and people receiving treatment for cancer. It does not usually affect healthy people. Cryptococcus gattii can
infect both healthy people and people who have problems with their immune system, including patients taking corticosteroid medications and organ transplant patients.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
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