Blastomycosis is a very rare and serious fungal infection that is caused by breathing in a fungus called Blastomyces dermatitidis, found in wood and soil.
The fungus makes its way through the lungs and spreads to other parts of the body further affecting the skin, bones, joints, and other organs. Individuals who are having weak immune systems are more at risk of widespread disease.
Usually no symptoms of blastomycosis are present if it only affects the lungs and the infection is not so severe. Some of the symptoms are shown when the infection spreads to other body organs.
Generally, mild infection that is limited to the lungs requires no treatment at all. Anti-fungal medications are the treatment of choice in the case of disseminated infection.
What are the causes of blastomycosis?
Blastomycosis is a systemic fungal infection which is caused by the fungus blastomyces dermatitidis found in wood and soil.
The fungus makes its way into the lungs through inhalation and spreads to other parts of the body. It may affect the skin, bones, joints, and other areas.
What are the signs and symptoms of Blastomycosis?
When the infection is limited to the lungs, there are no signs and symptoms of blastomycosis. Although, when it spreads to different parts of the body, the following signs and symptoms are manifested:
- Pain in the bones and joints, pain in the muscles
- Chest pain, cough
- Fever, night sweats
- Normal feeling of illness and uneasiness, fatigue
- Considerable weight loss
- Papules, pustules, and nodules are seen on the exposed areas of the skin
- Loss of pigment in the affected skin areas, skin scarring
How is Blastomycosis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of blastomycosis involves a thorough physical exam along with the evaluation of medical history. The diagnostic tests for blastomycosis may include:
- Culture of sputum and urine
- X-ray of the chest
- CT scan of the chest
- Skin biopsy or biopsy of the affected organ: A small sample of the affected organ is taken and sent to a pathology laboratory for examination under a microscope
Many conditions can possibly have similar kind of signs and symptoms. Your doctor may perform some additional tests to extract other medical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.
How is blastomycosis treated?
The treatment measures for blastomycosis may include:
- If the infection is mild and limited to the lungs, generally no treatment is required
- When the infection start spreading to the other parts of body, anti-fungal medications should be prescribed by the doctor that involve Fluconazole, Itraconazole, and Ketoconazole
- Severe infections may be treated with Amphotericin B
In order to prevent relapse of the infection, regular follow-up with the healthcare provider is required.