What is Blastomycosis ?
Blastomycosis is a disease caused by the fungus Blastomyces. Blastomyces is a thermally-dimorphic fungus meaning it grows as a thread-like mould in the environment and as a yeast (a single-celled fungus) when it causes human infections. The fungus is found in the environment such as moist soil and decomposing organic matter such as wood and leaves. People can get this disease by inhaling spores of this fungus from the air usually during outdoor activities that involve disturbing the soil.
In healthy individuals, symptoms may present similarly to that of flu. However, in people who have a weakened immune system, the infection can spread from the lungs to other organs. In order to confirm the diagnosis of blastomycosis, specimens from a patient (e.g. blood, sputum) is sent to a laboratory for culture and/or histology. Culture involves plating the specimen out onto appropriate growth media and observing mould growth within one to four weeks. Histology involves direct visualisation of Blastomyces yeast cells in infected tissues. Treatment of blastomycosis requires prescription antifungal medicines such as itraconazole or amphotericin B.