Posted: Oct 24, 2013 4:27 PM by MTN News
A surprise appearance by a fungus not seen in Montana caused infections in four people.
During Nov. 2012 and Feb. 2013, histoplamosis was diagnosed in four Montana residents according to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Histoplasmosis is a potentially severe illness caused by infection with the dimorphic fungus Histoplasma capsulatum.
The report says health-care providers should be aware of the possibility of histoplasmosis in Montana and consider the diagnosis in patients with clinically compatible illnesses, even in the absence of a history of travel outside of the state.
Histoplasmosis is caused by infection with the dimorphic fungus, Histoplasma capsulatum, following inhalation of contaminated soil. Of the Montana patients, one of the four reported mowing grass and being at a rodeo, two worked with potting soil and one reported exploring caves, camping and wake-boarding.
According to officials, the most common clinical presentation is acute pneumonia.
Persons with compromised immune systems are at risk for disseminated histoplasmosis, a severe illness requiring antifungal therapy that is often characterized by fever, malaise, anorexia, and weight loss.
This fungus is endemic in the Ohio River and Mississippi River valleys in the United States, where it is found in soil enriched with bird droppings and bat guano.
The fungus' zone extends from the Ohio River Valley west into North Dakota and South Dakota. States further west, including Montana, are not typically considered areas where histoplasmosis is endemic.
But recent studies suggest that the fungus might extend into Montana and other western states. Officials are looking to further environmental studies that could help determine if H. capsulatum is endemic in Montana.
To see the entire report, click here.