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This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about Histoplasmosis.

Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by a fungus. The disease primarily affects the lungs but occasionally invades other parts of the body.

The basics

Where is the fungus that causes histoplasmosis found? 

The fungus that causes histoplasmosis is commonly found throughout the world. It is endemic in the eastern and central U.S. especially the Mississippi, Ohio, and the Missouri River valleys. You can find the fungus in moist soil and grows well if mixed with bird, chicken, or bat droppings.

How is the fungus spread?

The fungus produces spores that, if disturbed, can become airborne. If a person breathes in these spores, they could become infected. The disease does not spread from person-to-person.

Who gets histoplasmosis?

Everyone is susceptible to this fungus and could get the disease if exposed. Lung infection is more common in males than in females. Infants, young children and older people, especially those with chronic lung disease, are most likely to become ill. Individuals who have a weakened immune system are at increased risk of the disease spreading through the body.


What are the symptoms of histoplasmosis?

Many people infected with histoplasmosis do not become ill. When symptoms do develop, it usually involves the lungs. Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • dry cough
  • chest pain
  • muscle aches

How soon after an exposure do symptoms appear?

If symptoms occur, they usually appear 3-17 days after exposure. 


How can I prevent the spread of histoplasmosis?

Limit exposure to contaminated soil that may harbor the fungus. Those at risk for exposure should consider using a protective mask and disposable clothing and spraying the area with water to reduce dust and decrease the likelihood of inhaling spores. ​

To learn more about histoplasmosis, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


What is the treatment for histoplasmosis?

A health care provider can prescribe antifungal medications to treat severe illness. Most mild cases resolve without treatment.

Will past infection with histoplasmosis make a person immune?

Past infection usually results in increased resistance to infection, but immunity is not complete.

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