People exposed to an environment that has a high amount of airborne Histoplasma fungi spores, workers with occupations involving contact with soil contaminated with bird or bat excreta are at elevated risk of developing the infection. The occupations at risk include:
- Farmers, gardeners, landscapers, horticulturists, pest control workers, poultry keepers
- Roofers, painters, construction or demolition workers
- Bridge inspectors, road construction workers
- Workers involved in installation and maintenance of heaters and air-conditioners
- Archaeologists, geologists, spelunker (cave explorers)
Patients suffering from long-term lung diseases such as bronchiectasis and emphysema are at high risk of developing a severe form of histoplasmosis.
Signs and symptoms of histoplasmosis resemble those of asbestos-related respiratory diseases
Most patients infected with Histoplasma fungi never show any signs or symptoms as their body defends the disease. However, when symptoms do occur, people commonly experience shortness of breath, chest pain, fever with chills, dry cough, muscle aches, fatigue, and weight loss. Individuals with an underlying lung disease such as emphysema when exposed to Histoplasma fungi may develop a chronic progressive form of histoplasmosis, the symptoms of which resemble that of tuberculosis.
Generally, the most common symptoms of respiratory disorders such as a cough and difficulty breathing tend to get overlooked or sometimes misdiagnosed. This leads to a delay in receiving appropriate care and unnecessary treatment as well as its side effects all along.