Coccidioidomycosis – chronic pulmonary : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Definition

Chronic pulmonary coccidioidomycosis is a lung infection caused by breathing in the fungus Coccidioides.

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

The infection is caused by breathing in the spores of a fungus found in the soil in desert regions of the southwestern U.S., Mexico, and Central and South America. The disease can have an acute, chronic, or disseminated form.

People get the chronic form months or years after having an infection that often is not diagnosed. Lung abscesses can form and may break open, causing pus in the lung cavity (empyema) or an abnormal connection between an air passage and the lung cavity (bronchopleural fistula). Scarring (fibrosis) and cavities can form in the upper lungs as chronic pulmonary coccidioidomycosis slowly gets worse over a period of months or years.

Most pulmonary coccidioidomycosis infections do not become chronic.

The following increase the risk for the chronic or disseminated forms of the disease:

  • African or Phillippine descent
  • Weak immune system
  • Pregnancy
  • Pre-existing heart or lung disease
  • Diabetes

Pictures & Images

Coccidioidomycosis – chest x-ray

This chest x-ray shows the affects of a fungal infection, coccidioidomycosis. In the middle of the left lung (seen on the right side of the picture) there are multiple, thin-walled cavities (seen as light areas) with a diameter of 2 to 4 centimeters. To the side of these light areas are patchy light areas with irregular and poorly defined borders.

Other diseases that may explain these x-ray findings include lung abscesses, chronic pulmonary tuberculosis, chronic pulmonary histoplasmosis, and others.

Tuberculosis, advanced – chest x-rays

Tuberculosis, advanced - chest x-rays

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that causes inflammation, the formation of tubercules and other growths within tissue, and can cause tissue death. These chest x-rays show advanced pulmonary tuberculosis. There are multiple light areas (opacities) of varying size that run together (coalesce). Arrows indicate the location of cavities within these light areas. The x-ray on the left clearly shows that the opacities are located in the upper area of the lungs toward the back. The appearance is typical for chronic pulmonary tuberculosis but may also occur with chronic pulmonary histiocytosis and chronic pulmonary coccidioidomycosis. Pulmonary tuberculosis is making a comeback with new resistant strains that are difficult to treat. Pulmonary tuberculosis is the most common form of the disease, but other organs can be infected.

Fungus

Fungus

Fungal infections are caused by microscopic organisms (fungi) that can live on the skin. They can live on the dead tissues of the hair, nails, and outer skin layers.


Review Date : 12/1/2009
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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