NewsDesk @bactiman63

The following report came from El Artemiseno (computer translated):

After a religious activity in the Ruinas del Cafetal Angerona, municipality of Artemisa, an outbreak of histoplasmosis took place in the cistern area, with a total of 43 people exposed, of whom only nine were not infected, and of the 34 who got sick, seven are children.

Histoplasma capsulatum/CDC

Raymundo Verde, Head of the Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Artemisa, stated that “the event took place on January 29, and the study and control of the focus began on February 22, when those affected went to the hospital, before the start of the symptoms, such as headache, muscle pain, intermittent fever… that can appear between three and 17 days after exposure.

This infectious disease is produced by the inhalation of spores of the fungus, the causal agent Histoplasma capsulatum , present in bat feces, and which can cause pneumonia that is very difficult to treat. In the area of ​​the cisterns or caves there are old water deposits, in whose soil this fungus grows fertilized by the guano of the mammal and where the affected people had contact.

From the provincial capital “35 were exposed and 26 were infected (74.2%), nine were hospitalized, and the same number remain asymptomatic, under surveillance. Those admitted are receiving care at the San Cristóbal and Artemisa hospitals. Nine sputa and 13 monosera were also taken, which were transferred to the Institute of Tropical Medicine (IPK) for analysis, ”he explained.

The measures in the face of this eventuality, says Verde, are “the use of the mask on the site, avoiding removing the soil with the presence of feces, avoiding -above all- entering the area of ​​the caves as prevention, and in the case of the personnel who work , in the also National Monument located about 6 kilometers from the provincial capital, the due moistening of the walls with water and hypochlorite.”

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Even, “a yellow tape has already been placed to contain the passage of people and coordinates with Flora and Fauna to proceed to the closure of the contaminated premises permanently.” 

Apparently -according to the patients themselves-, the authorization to hold this party was obtained from Culture, although it would be more up to Heritage or Flora and Fauna, comments the epidemiologist.

In any case, it is an atypical event, since the people affected are usually geologists and speleologists, or personnel specialized in extracting guano for use as fertilizer.