What you need to know about histoplasmosis

When a bat or colony of bats set up shop in and around your property, it can be a rather unsettling event. However, in most cases, these bats will disband the colony, move on from your home, and relocate elsewhere without ever really giving you any trouble whatsoever. This is the positive of the matter but there can be complications after the bats have left your home. This occurs thanks to a little thing called Histoplasma.

What is Histoplasma?

Histoplasma is a particular type of fungus that tends to grow in soil that is rich with bat or bird droppings. This fungus will normally only grow in swampy and marsh-like areas in states such as Mississippi or Ohio for example. However, if the bats in your home manage to leave a large number of droppings in the soil around your home, this can have a disastrous effect on your health. This is thanks to the harmful illness caused by the fungus called Histoplasmosis.

bat in flight; Histoplasmosis

What is Histoplasmosis?

Histoplasmosis, as aforementioned, is a fungal infection caused by the fungus grown in soil rich with bat or bird droppings. You may think that catching this illness would require direct contact with the fungus, however, because this fungus lets off harmful spores into the air, this illness is airborne and can be unknowingly caught
very easily if not careful. Breathing in these spores is not a guarantee that you will get histoplasmosis but if you do, it will begin to take its toll in several ways. When you get Histoplasmosis, you will likely be subject to symptoms such as a fever, heavy cough, and fatigue. Admittedly, this illness is not the worst thing in the world and most people will recover from this affliction without any need for medical care or medicine. However, those that have a weaker immune system such as the elderly or those that are already ill will potentially be susceptible to much more severe consequences such as joint pain, breathing difficulties, and even a loss of vision.

bat guano; Histoplasmosis

How to Avoid Getting Histoplasmosis?

The first thing you should consider as a form of prevention is stopping bats from roosting in your home altogether. To do this, ensure that all potential entrances are sealed off. The most common include vents, roof caps, and loose brickwork. If you do this, there is much less chance that bats will roost in your home. However, if you do choose to do this, remember to be thorough. Bats can fit into openings that are only 3/8 of an inch wide, so make sure that even the smallest gaps are patched up. No matter how perceptive and preventative we are, sometimes bats will find a way into our home that we simply didn’t consider. If this occurs, you’ll have to play host to them for a while and in some cases, the soil around your home may become infected with the fungus. If this happens, you’ll need to get rid of it as soon as possible. A preventative measure you can take is pouring water on the fungus. If you pour water on the fungus, this prevents spores from being released into the air and gives you a period where it is safer to dispose of the droppings. Although this does not guarantee that no spores will be released into the air. So, the best practice is to also wear protective gear for the job. If you are able to get a hold of a respiratory mask, this will aid you during this process and practically guarantee that you won’t take in any of the spores in the air.