Chronic pulmonary coccidioidomycosis is a lung infection caused by breathing in the fungus Coccidioides.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
The infection is caused by breathing in the spores of a fungus found in the soil in desert regions of the southwestern U.S., Mexico, and Central and South America. The disease can have an acute , chronic , or disseminated form.
People get the chronic form months or years after having a harmless infection that might have gone undiagnosed. Lung abscesses can form and may break open, causing pus in the lung cavity (empyema ) or an abnormal connection between an air passage and the lung cavity (bronchopleural fistula). Scarring (fibrosis) and cavities can form in the upper lungs as chronic coccidioidomycosis slowly progresses over a period of months or years.
Most pulmonary coccidioidomycosis infections do not become chronic. They also usually don't cause symptoms and are only picked up by a positive coccidioidin skin test .
The following increase the risk for the chronic or disseminated forms of the disease:
- African or Phillippine descent
- Weak immune system
- Pre-existing heart or lung disease
Other symptoms of this disease include:
Antifungal medications are used to treat the disease. Treating any immune system problem (such as AIDS) and limiting the use of medications that suppress the immune system (such as steroids or chemotherapy) can help the body fight the coccidioidomycosis infection.
With treatment the outcome is usually good, although the disease can come back. Some patients, such as those with immune system problems (from AIDS or drugs that suppress the immune system) may need to keep taking antifungal medication to prevent a relapse.
Calling your health care provider:
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if coccidioidomycosis symptoms worsen or do not improve with treatment.
Call your health care provider if you have new symptoms.
Because coccidioidomycosis usually causes no symptoms -- and when symptoms do occur they usually get better quickly on their own -- there is no need to avoid infection. People with immune problems (such as AIDS patients and those on drugs that suppress the immune system) can avoid travel to areas where this fungus is found, if they want to reduce their risk of getting this rare, chronic disorder.
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