Blastomycosis symptoms are not something you may have thought you would ever type into an Internet search engine, but this condition can occur in people who live in the south-central and Midwestern United States and Canada. The rate of infection is 1 or 2 cases per 100,000 people. Other locations can see this fungal infection but it is rare. This article explains the symptoms and what needs to be done to prevent serious complications including the possibility of death.
This is a rare fungal infection that may produce no symptoms or may cause the following symptoms:
- a cough, which may produce a brown or bloody mucus
- chest pain
- difficulty breathing
- general discomfort
- unexplained weight loss
- joint stiffness and pain
- muscle stiffness and pain
- bone lesions (sores)
- skin lesions, which begin as small, raised bumps or blisters that later become ulcers with a crusty surface
The disease is more likely to develop in those with a weakened immune system, such as someone with HIV or who has had an organ transplant.
Other names that this condition goes by include North American blastomycosis or Gilchrist's disease and it is caused by the inhalation of the fungus Blastomyces Dermatitidis. It is not spread from person to person but may be transmitted by the bite of an infected dog. Risk may increase for farmers and gardeners since the fungus can be found in wood and soil.
A person infected with blastomycosis my notice the aforementioned symptoms and a physical examination complete with laboratory cultures of the skin lesions, blood, or sputum is necessary to properly diagnose the disease. In some cases chest x-rays will be taken to further form a proper diagnosis.
For treatment, a physician may prescribe an antifungal drug such as Ketoconazole, Fluconazole, or Itraconazole. If the infection is severe Amphotercin B may be prescribed, this drug should be monitored for side effects.
A patient with a minor infections will usually recover fully but treatment should not be delayed, if the infection is not treated, it can worsen and become severe enough that death could result. If you have a weakened immune system you should protect yourself from infections by avoiding travel to areas where the infection is known to occur.