Several types of histoplasmosis exist. The mildest form produces no signs or symptoms, but severe infections can be life-threatening. When signs and symptoms do occur, they usually appear three to 17 days after exposure and may include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Dry cough
  • Chest discomfort

In some people, histoplasmosis can also produce joint pain and a rash. People who have an underlying lung disease, such as emphysema, may develop a chronic form of histoplasmosis that can additionally feature weight loss and a cough that brings up blood. Symptoms of chronic histoplasmosis sometimes can mimic those of tuberculosis.

Severe histoplasmosis

The most severe variety of histoplasmosis occurs primarily in infants and in people with compromised immune systems. Called disseminated histoplasmosis, this variety can affect nearly any part of your body, including your eyes, liver, central nervous system, skin and adrenal glands. If untreated, disseminated histoplasmosis is usually fatal.

When to see a doctor

Contact your doctor if you develop flu-like symptoms after being exposed to bird or bat droppings — especially if you have a weakened immune system.

Feb. 08, 2012