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Alternative namesNorth American blastomycosis; Gilchrist's disease
DefinitionBlastomycosis is a rare fungal infection caused by inhaling a fungus ( Blastomyces dermatitidis ), which is found in wood and soil.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Blastomycosis occurs most often in people living in the south-central and Midwestern US and Canada. Exposure to soil is the key risk factor. The disease usually affects people with compromised immune systems, such as people with HIV or organ transplant recipients.
Men are more likely to be affected than women. Lung infection may produce no symptoms, but when the infection is widespread, skin lesions or bone lesions may appear and the urogenital system (bladder, kidney, prostate, testes) may be affected.
The incidence of blastomycosis is 1-2 out of every 100,000 people in geographic areas where blastomycosis occurs most frequently. It is even less common outside those areas.
Signs and tests
TreatmentThough not all blastomycosis infection in the lungs requires antibiotics, when the disease has spread outside of the lungs or become severe in the lungs, amphotericin B, itraconazole, or other antifungal agents may be prescribed. Periodic follow-up is recommended to detect any recurrence of the disease.
Expectations (prognosis)Patients with limited skin lesions and relatively mild lung involvement usually recover completely. Untreated, more severe disease is progressive and can lead to death.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if symptoms suggesting blastomycosis occur.
PreventionAvoiding travel to areas where the disorder occurs will prevent exposure, but this is not practical for most people. Although other prevention is unknown, the disorder is rare except in people who are immunosuppressed .
Update Date: 7/31/2002Christopher Parsons, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT