December 18, 2008
CDC warns of the fungus histoplasmosis
Travelers working in histoplasmosis-endemic areas such as El Salvador should take protective measures, U.S. health officials said.
The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said histoplasmosis is a fungal disease acquired from inhaling dust containing histoplasma capsulatum spores. The infection usually results in an asymptomatic or mild flu-like illness, but can result in loss of lung capacity.
Certain activities -- sweeping and cleaning outdoors, digging and working in bird or bat roosting areas -- were associated with an increased risk of becoming ill, the report said.
U.S. health officials advise travelers and those involved in construction activities to use personal protective equipment and decrease dust-generation when working in histoplasmosis-endemic areas. Clinicians should consider histoplasmosis as a possible cause of acute respiratory or flu-like illness in travelers returning from endemic areas, the CDC said.