In the bat world we are very familiar with the fact that in the Mississippi River Valley Histoplasmosis is very common. However, many people who have lived here all their lives have no idea what it is or how people get it. Even members of the medical community.
Why is the Mississippi River Valley Histoplasmosis Common?
In this story outlined by the local news, KWQC, there really isn’t a lot of information about this life altering disease. We realize this was meant as a feature about Carole’s story, but for someone unfamiliar with Histoplasmosis, we feel this story raises more questions than answers. We are going to fill in some gaps here for you.
Histoplasmosis is a disease in the lungs and eyes caused by a fungal spore that we inhale when it is disturbed.
Histoplasmosis symptoms start out small and seemingly innocent. A persistent cough, intermittent fevers, achy body, irritated eyes, fatigue. All of the things one might associate with a bad cold or the flu. These symptoms do not just go away though, and in many cases will worsen.
Many people in the Mississippi River Valley do not know they have been infected with Histoplasmosis because the symptoms are so mild. In many cases, people who contract Histoplasmosis recover on their own and go about their daily lives. In some cases where people do go to the doctor (if they are actually diagnosed correctly), it is easily treatable with a round of antibiotics.
If symptoms worsen there are many risks associated with ignoring this disease. You may lose the vision in one or both eyes or have to have a lung removed. Mississippi River Valley Histoplasmosis is also potentially fatal if left untreated.
There is also a great risk of a recurrence of Histoplasmosis later in life. When this rare event happens, it is usually a different, and much more serious version, of Histoplasmosis. We wrote a blog on that eventuality as well, click here to read it. Fibrosing mediastinitis, covered in that article, is a rare but 100% fatal complication.
In the Mississippi River Valley, histoplasmosis is actually present every day of your lives. It is present in the soil from bird droppings, specifically poultry. It is also rampant in bat guano, otherwise known as bat poop.
So knowing you are exposed to it daily, what can you do to avoid it?
Unfortunately, there is no way you can actively avoid Histoplasmosis in the Mississippi River Valley when you are just out and about living your daily lives. There are no vitamins or homeopathic remedies to boost your immune system against it. If it happens to be disturbed in an area where you are out walking, there is no way to not breathe it in.
There are, however, many things you can do around your own home to avoid Mississippi River Valley Histoplasmosis:
- Backyard chickens – These have become a common occurrence in even the most dense cities these days. The allure of fresh eggs is almost irresistible to some. If you have backyard chickens, keep in mind their droppings are loaded with the potential to grow histoplasma capsulatum, the fungus that causes Histoplasmosis. To avoid this as much as possible, it is very important to keep your chicken coop clean. If you clean it regularly, before large deposits of droppings are allowed to build up, you will greatly reduce your risk.
- Bat infestations – As bats natural habitats are slowly but surely being destroyed, they have no choice but to move into our habitats. Bat infestations in homes or buildings are becoming more and more common. Don’t ignore a bat infestation! We happen to think bats are cute and we greatly respect all they do for our environment (flying insect control and pollination.) We do not think having them in your home for those reasons is a safe decision for you or your family. Bats can and should live outside. If they are living in your home, aside from the property damage they create, there will also be an accumulation of bat guano. These piles of bat poop are HIGHLY likely to grow histoplasma capsulatum in your region of the county.
- Wear a respirator – When you are cleaning something that you even suspect may have the right environment for growing this deadly fungus, you must wear a full face respirator. A dust mask WILL NOT cut it. It does not strain out the particulates of the histoplasma capsulatum fungus.
As one last note, there are many species of bats in the Mississippi River Valley that are either on the endangered species list or are listed as threatened and therefore federally protected. If your concern happens to be bats in your home, please do not just kill them.
Our bat removal techniques are 100% humane. Call an expert to get the bats out safely, seal up your home so they can’t get back in, and clean up any damage or guano safely.
Your local bat removal expert,