Histoplasmosis – Death by Chickens?

I was doing my usual browsing through facebook and came upon some cool looking chicken pens posted. I started saving some of the pictures for ideas because they were compact and cute. Some were like doll houses, one made from an old swing set frame, another looked like a 2 foot wide track all around the back yard. When I saw that there were lots of comments under each picture I started opening up the comments to see if anyone had opinions on each one as to which I should consider. On the last one which was the track like run around the yard somebody commented that they hoped their friend was careful around those chickens because they are nasty, filthy creatures and have serious diseases that can make you extremely sick. When I read this I thought what the heck? I’ve been around chickens all my life and never heard such a thing. I was about to discount it and declare that woman a city folk when I read some more comments, people that actually incurred illness in their families and their loved ones and it was caused by their chickens!

I had to read all of them. I then googled the one thing that was mentioned over and over again… Histoplasmosis.


(Definition I found on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) Histoplasmosis (also known as “Cave disease,”[1]Darling’s disease,”[1]Ohio valley disease,”[1]reticuloendotheliosis,”[1]spelunker’s lung” and “caver’s disease“) is a disease caused by the fungusHistoplasma capsulatum. Symptoms of this infection vary greatly, but the disease affects primarily the lungs.[2] Occasionally, other organs are affected; this is called disseminated histoplasmosis, and it can be fatal if left untreated.

Now you can imagine how I felt when this fear became a reality. It made me question my Aunt’s death from lung cancer. She had chickens her whole life. She smoked and she drank her beer too. Everyone blamed her death on her smoking. But what if… what if it wasn’t the main cause? What if it was the chickens? I’d say it was possible. Doctors now a days just want a direction to go in most of the time so they can prescribe treatment and move on to their next patient. There is a lot of incorrect diagnosis in this day and time. This risk factor is what has made me look everything up online before I go to a doctor or before I believe a doctor and I know that sounds sad but it is true. I could tell you several stories about misdiagnosis in my own personal family.

Everything I’ve read about the Histoplasmosis has lead me to believe it is an airborne contaminant that is breathed in when the dirt in a chicken pen is disturbed. There is the possibility, not every time or every chicken pen, but there is the possibility of a fungus growing in the dirt. It needs a certain temperature to be maintained and appears as a brown fungus growing, I’m imagining it to look like a brown mildew/mold substance.

Google’s definition:

noun – infection by a fungus found in the droppings of birds and bats in humid areas. It is not serious if confined to the lungs but can be fatal if spread throughout the body.


  1. Coughing up blood
  2. Adrenal enlargement
  3. Lesions – as they heal they tend to calsify
  4. Non-specific Respiratory infection symptoms
  5. Lung disease

The fungus literally transforms into a yeast which can grow and multiply and spread to other organs in the body. If the body has a good immune system it can fight it and contain it. But, if not, if it goes undiagnosed, and untreated… it can kill you. The symptoms that manifest in the beginning can be silent and minimal. This is a very silent killer. The people that commented in the string of comments on facebook all seemed to agree it took, on average, about 10 years to take the lives of their loved ones.

If you have chickens and chicken pens that you clean out that may have this dust carrying a possible fungus that causes this terrible unfolding of events leading to an eventual life threatening illness I would strongly suggest wearing a mask and safety goggles, yes, I said safety goggles because it can get in your eyes also and cause scarring which affects your vision.

There is much more information available on Histoplasmosis and all of the other diseases it can cause if it goes untreated and enters a body that is not strong enough to fight it so please, google it yourself too, so you can learn more about it and possibly help someone you love from an untimely end to a life way too soon.


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