It is a sunny day and you decide to take your child to the playground. The kids are having fun on the swings or just running around the park. Some of the kids are playing with the birds that are flocking around the bread that they are feeding the birds. Everyone is having lots of fun and then you go home. Everybody is happy including the well fed birds. You are happy, your child did not have an allergy or asthma episode while in the park from the trees and grasses.
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That night your child starts coughing and you do not think anything about it. Give them a little cough syrup and they go back to sleep. You think it is just another allergic attack or their asthma is acting up again. The next day he or she is worse, so you decide to make an appointment with the Doctor. You take them to the Doctor and they decide to run some tests to see what is going on. One Doctor says it is an allergy attack. Another says it is their Asthma acting up. This scenario goes on for weeks with other Physicians and no one can diagnose your child. They give them antibiotics for ten days and still it does not go away. You are getting worried about your child because of their compromised immune system due to their Asthma and Allergies. You start to think that all Doctors are quacks by this point in time.
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In the mean time, your child is getting even worse, you do not know what to do at 2 AM, so you go to the Emergency Room at the local hospital. Tonight is your child's lucky nite, you get a real Doctor who has a lot of real experience with exotic illnesses. First he asks questions about what was your child doing before they got sick. You tell him that your little boy was in the park playing with the birds with the other children. The Doctor asks more questions and decides to run a battery of tests that the other Physicians did not. He also wants to run a test called Serology. This is a blood test that examines blood for antigens and antibodies. Finally, you feel relieved that this Physician knows what they are doing. The lab tests come back, your child has been exposed to Histoplasma.
Now the treatment begins.
Histoplasma, what is that you ask.
According to Wikipedia: Histoplasmosis, also known as Darling's disease,is a disease caused by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. Symptoms of this infection vary greatly, but the disease primarily affects the lungs. Occasionally, other organs are affected; this is called disseminated histoplasmosis, and it can be fatal if untreated. Histoplasmosis is common among AIDS patients because of their lowered immune system. This type of infection is especially dangerous for someone with a compromised immune system. It can be found in soil and material contaminated with bird or bat droppings. It is especially common among pigeons and where they hang out in parks and building roofs.
I inspected an office building in Boca Raton, Fl. once because the occupants were all having flu like symptoms on a regular basis. There was no mold or allergens, but a test of bird droppings in the fresh air vent (there was a pigeon nest in it) to the building tested positive for histoplasma capsulatum. We informed the owner of the building, it was cleaned up, then all the problems with the building stopped after that.
Remember, it is not always mold causing the problem.
In conclusion, keep your child away from pigeons and where they nest. Do not feed the pigeons, because a large group will descend upon your area and the spores of the Histoplasma may be on the pigeons. Breathing in the spores can infect your lungs, so avoid pigeons. If you are concerned about Histoplasmosis, the Center For Disease Control and the New York City CDC both have an extensive library on the topic. If you feel you or your child have been exposed to Histoplasmosis, contact your Physician immediately.
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