It's difficult to prevent exposure to the fungus that causes histoplasmosis, especially in areas where the disease is widespread. Even so, these steps can help reduce the risk of infection:

  • Avoid exposure. If your immune system is compromised, avoid renovation projects that might expose you to contaminated soil. Likewise, cave exploring and raising birds — such as pigeons or chickens — aren't advised.
  • Spray contaminated soil. Before you work in or dig soil that's likely to harbor the fungus that causes histoplasmosis, spray it thoroughly with water. This can help prevent spores from being released into the air. Spraying chicken coops and barns before cleaning them also can reduce your risk.
  • Use an effective face mask. One of the best ways to protect yourself from soil-borne organisms if you must work in contaminated areas or in caves known to harbor bats is to wear a respirator mask. Consult with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to determine which type of mask will provide adequate protection for your level of exposure.
Feb. 08, 2012