Paracoccidiodomycosis (South American Blastomycosis)

Paracoccidiodomycosis is a fungal infection that is slowly progressive. It starts in the lungs and spreading to mucous membranes of the mouth and nose, skin, lymph glands and other organs. It is caused by the fungus paracoccidiodomycosis brasiliensis. The disease is exclusive to Central and South America.

Where does it occur?

It is seen exclusively in tropical and subtropical regions from Mexico to Argentina. Brazil has the highest incidence.

How is it transmitted?

It is transmitted by inhaling dirt and dust containing the fungus.

Is it contagious from person to person?

It is not contagious from person to person.

What is the risk for travelers?

Generally the risk is low, unless engaged in agricultural or construction activities.

How soon after exposure will one develop symptoms?

Symptoms appear anywhere from 1 month to a year after exposure.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Most adults have no symptoms.

When symptoms do occur, they involve cough, fever, chest pain and shortness of breath. As the infection spreads through the blood one can also see ulcers in the mouth and nose, warty lesions on the skin or enlarged lymph nodes. In severe cases one can see lesions in the spleen, liver and bone.

Are there any lab tests to diagnose the illness?

Biopsy of affected tissue can demonstrate the organism. It can also be cultured from secretions and blood antibody tests are available.

Is there any treatment?

Antibiotics like itraconazole are effective. In severe cases Amphoterican B is useful.

What preventive measures can be taken?

No specific preventive measures are available.

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