Histoplasmosis is the name given to a specific fungal infection. This fungus is generally found in the soil. Certain regions may have a higher incidence of the fungus, leading to a higher rate of infection. For example, places like Puerto Rico, and places like Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio river valleys are known to have greater incidence of the fungus. Histoplasmosis can affect adults as well as children and even small babies.
The Histoplasmosis skin test is a skin test which checks if you have been exposed to or infected by the histoplasma fungus. If the result is positive, your medical caregiver will be able to start suitable treatment.
The histoplasmosis fungus, which is found mainly in the soil, is especially concentrated in soil which is contaminated with bat or bird droppings. Breathing in airborne particles causes infection, which could either be short and acute, or become chronic, gradually spreading throughout the body.
The symptoms of histoplasmosis are very similar to those of flu or lung diseases, such as fever, chills, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, cough and chest pain. Coughing can become quite severe and resemble that of tuberculosis or pneumonia, with the patient even coughing up blood. Some patients may develop joint pain, nodule-like skin lesions and mouth sores. People with weakened immune systems (like in cancer, AIDS or those who have undergone a transplant) may have a very severe infection, spreading to other body parts, and causing inflammation in the adrenal glands and meninges (which is the outer covering of the brain).
If you are suffering from these symptoms, your medical care giver may order a histoplasmosis skin test.
There is no special preparation required for this test. The health care provider performing the test will use a germ-killing antiseptic to clean the site of the puncture. This is usually the forearm, or any area which has some hair. An allergen will now be injected into the site, just below the surface of the skin. The site of the injection will be checked after 24 hours and again after 48 hours to see if there are signs of any reaction. Sometimes, a reaction may also appear as late as on the fourth day.
If there is no inflammation at the site of the injection, it means that the result is normal. However, a histoplasmosis antibody test may prove to be positive. An abnormal result would mean that you have been exposed to an infection by the histoplasmosis fungus.
as with any other test this too is not free from risks. A person could get an anaphylactic shock if the test is not conducted properly and with proper medical care.
Submitted by M T on April 7, 2010 at 10:23