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Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by a fungus. The disease mainly hurts your lungs. Sometimes, it hurts other organs too, and it can be fatal if untreated. The fungus grows in soil and material contaminated with bat or bird droppings (poop). The fungus gets into the air when soil (that has the fungus) is disturbed. Breathing it in causes infection. Many people don't have symptoms. If they do, symptoms include fever, chest pains, fatigue, weight loss, breathing problems, swollen lymph nodes, pneumonia-like symptoms, and a dry (nonproductive) cough.

Anyone working at a job or close to places where the fungus is in the air can get this disease if you breathe in enough of it. People with HIV should avoid any activities that raise their risk, like cleaning chicken coops, disturbing soil beneath bird-roosting sites, and exploring caves. Below are some jobs and hobbies that increase your risk:

  • Bridge inspector or painter
  • Chimney cleaner
  • Construction worker
  • Demolition worker
  • Farmer
  • Gardener
  • Heating and air-conditioning system installer or service person
  • Microbiology laboratory worker
  • Pest control worker
  • Restorer of historic or abandoned buildings
  • Roofer
  • Spelunker (cave explorer)

These and other sites with this fungus are most likely not tested for histoplasmosis or cleaned. Talk to your doctor about how to protect yourself if you have to be near it.

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