can bird droppings cause lung problems

Histoplasmosis is a lung infection caused by breathing in Histoplasma, a fungus that lives in the environment in certain parts of the United States and the world. Even though people living in or traveling to these areas regularly breathe in the fungal spores, most of the time, they do not get sick. People who get histoplasmosis can have mild to life-threatening symptoms of pneumonia.

Histoplasmosis is often misdiagnosed or diagnosed late because the symptoms are similar to more common pneumonias caused by bacteria or viruses. Delays in getting the appropriate treatment can lead to more severe illness or even death.

Learn about the symptoms and risks of histoplasmosis. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns or think you might have histoplasmosis.

When to see a doctor

If you experience flu-like symptoms after coming into contact with bird or bat droppings, get in touch with your doctor, especially if you have compromised immune function.

The fungus Histoplasma capsulatum’s reproductive cells, or spores, are what cause histoplasmosis. When dirt or other material is disturbed, they float into the air.

The fungus grows best in moist soil that is high in organic matter, particularly bat and bird droppings. It is especially prevalent in parks, old barns, caverns, and pigeon and chicken coops.

Since histoplasmosis is not communicable, it cannot be passed from one person to another. If youve had histoplasmosis, you can get it again. If you do contract it again, though, the sickness will probably be less severe this time.

The more spores you breathe in, the greater your risk of experiencing the symptoms of histoplasmosis. People more likely to be exposed include:

  • Farmers
  • Pest control workers
  • Poultry keepers
  • Construction workers
  • Roofers
  • Landscapers and gardeners
  • Cave explorers
  • Demolition workers

How It Spreads: From Soil to Lungs

Histoplasmosis can be contracted by inhaling the fungus in the air. Usually, the fungus grows in soil and in the droppings of birds or bats. Gardening and other soil-moving activities can raise your risk of histoplasmosis. Histoplasmosis can also infect pets (dogs and cats), but it does not pass from person to person or between pets and people.

The majority of the United States’ histoplasmosis-causing fungus is located in central and eastern states, particularly in the regions surrounding the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. It is also present in other states and countries around the globe.

Common Symptoms Can Lead to Delayed Diagnosis

Symptoms of histoplasmosis include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Body aches

Usually beginning three to seventeen days after inhaling the fungus, these symptoms

Speak with a healthcare professional if you believe you may have histoplasmosis based on your symptoms. They can draw blood or urine samples from you to test for histoplasmosis. They might also request that you undergo imaging procedures, such as a lung CT scan or x-ray.


What are the signs and symptoms of histoplasmosis?

In most cases, histoplasmosis causes mild flu-like symptoms that appear between 3 and 17 days after exposure to the fungus. These symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, cough and chest discomfort. In these milder forms, most symptoms go away on their own in a few weeks or within a month.

What lung disease is caused by bird dust?

Bird Fancier’s Lung is a type of hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an immunologically mediated lung disease due to repetitive exposure of air-borne avian antigen. This was first described in 1965 and is known as one of the most common causes of hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

What can you get in your lungs from birds?

Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection caused by inhaling dust from spore-infected bird droppings. The acute form is treated with antifungal medication.

Can keeping birds affect your lungs?

Psittacosis is an uncommon infectious disease that is most often transmitted to humans through exposure to infected birds, especially parrots, cockatiels, parakeets and similar pet birds. Psittacosis can affect the lungs and may cause inflammatory illness of the lungs (pneumonia).