Blastomycosis is an infection caused by breathing in the Blastomyces dermatitidis fungus. The fungus is found in decaying wood and soil.
North American blastomycosis; Gilchrist's disease
You can get blastomyocosis by contact with moist soil, most commonly where there is rotting wood and leaves. The fungus enters the body through the lungs, where the infection starts. The fungus then spreads to other parts of the body. The disease may affect the skin, bones and joints, and other areas.
Blastomycosis is rare. It is found in the central and southeastern United States, and in Canada, India, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Africa.
The key risk factor for the disease is contact with infected soil. It most often affects people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or who have had an organ transplant. Men are more likely to be affected than women.
You may not have any symptoms if the infection remains in the lungs. The following symptoms can develop if the infection spreads to other parts of the body:
Lung infection may not cause any symptoms. Symptoms may be seen if the infection spreads. Symptoms may include:
You may not need to take medicine for a mild blastomycosis infection that stays in the lungs. Your doctor may recommend the following antifungal medicines when the disease is severe or spreads outside of the lungs.
Amphotericin B may be used for severe infections.
Follow up regularly with your doctor to make sure the infection does not return.
People with minor skin sores (lesions) and relatively mild lung infections usually recover completely. The infection can lead to death if not treated.
Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.