What is blastomycosis? It’s an infection caused by a fungus called Blastomyces dermatitidis. This fungus dwells in moist soil and decomposing vegetation, like wood or leaves. How you become infected is by inhaling its spores that float in the air after disrupting a fungal filled environment.
Most who breath in the fungal spores rarely get blastomycosis. For those that do, the fungus infects their lungs. This infection is not contagious, but it can spread within you and affect other organs, particularly your skin, bones and joints.
In the U.S., the most common area the fungus lives is in the central and southeastern states. And men are more often infected because they tend to engage in exposure activities, e.g. hunting, camping, hiking and clearing wooded land.
Blastomycosis does not always cause symptoms. When symptoms are present, they are similar to having influenza, including:
Should the fungus spread beyond the lungs and infect other body parts, you may experience other problems like bone pain, rash or skin abscesses. And weeks can go by after exposure before any of these symptoms occur.
With a minor case of blastomycosis you may recover without treatment. For those who suffer from a severe lung infection or the fungus spreads, antifungal treatment is necessary. If not treated, a serious incidence of blastomycosis can cause death. Also, after treatment and recovery symptoms of blastomycosis can recur.
For those with an impaired immune system avoiding wooded areas (especially where the fungus is commonly found) is a healthy choice.