What is it?

Blastomycosis is an infection caused by various related genotypes of the fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis. Blastomycosis is also termed North American blastomycosis, Gilchrist's disease, and blastomycetic dermatitis. Blastomycosis is found predominately in the central and southeast U.S., although it does occur in Canada, Africa, and sporadically in a few other countries. The fungi can infect many types of animals and humans, Risk factors include immunocompromised patients, and traveling or living in densely wooded areas.The vast majority of infections occur in the lungs.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Blastomycotic meningoencephalitis
- Chronic pulmonary blastomycosis
- Acute pulmonary blastomycosis
- Cutaneous blastomycosis
- Disseminated blastomycosis

Signs & symptoms

About 50% of all people infected with the fungi do not show any symptoms of blastomycosis. When symptoms of blastomycosis do occur, they appear after a latent or incubation period of time that ranges from about three to 15 weeks after the initial exposure to the fungi.The initial symptoms of blastomycosis resemble flu symptoms - fever, chills, cough, and discomfort or pain in the muscles, joints, and chest. If blastomycosis is spread by the blood or lymphatic system, skin lesions or bone lesions may develop.


The diagnosis of blastomycosis is done by obtaining the patient's history and by seeing the fungi in samples taken from skin scrapings or other infected tissue and examined microscopically. However, the definitive diagnosis of blastomycosis is done by isolating (growing) the fungus from one or more tissue samples (blood, sputum samples or biopsy samples from skin, bone marrow, liver, or other organs). In addition, there are immunology-based tests that can detect fungi present in urine or blood. Another available test can detect antibodies directed against the fungi; this test indicates whether the person has been exposed to the fungi but does not determine active infection.


Treatment for blastomycosis is an antifungal drug termed itraconazole (Sporanox). It may be used alone to treat mild to moderate blastomycosis infections. Patients with more severe disease may be treated with amphotericin B. Some severely ill patients are treated with both amphotericin B and itraconazole. There are other drugs related to itraconazole, but none are as effective as itraconazole. In general, most clinicians treat the patient for about six to 12 months. Some immunosuppressed patients may require lifelong suppressive therapy with itraconazole.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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