According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of fungal infections—cough, fever, headache, joint pain, muscle aches, and rashes—often are similar to those caused by other common illnesses and infections. Answers to the following questions can help your health care provider evaluate your fungal infection risk—leading to a quicker diagnosis, allowing for more effective treatment, and perhaps helping to prevent serious illness.

  1. Where do you live and have you recently traveled outside of your local area? Some types of fungal infections are more common in certain areas of the United States and the world. For example, valley fever is more common in the Southwestern U.S. and histoplasmosis is often reported in the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys.
  2. What kinds of activities have you engaged in recently? Fungi can be found in air, dust, and soil. Bird and bat droppings often contain high levels of fungi, so gardening (or digging), cleaning bird coops, and exploring caves can increase your risk of developing a fungal infection.
  3. Do you have a chronic illness? People with HIV/AIDS and those who have had an organ transplant (especially within the past year) or have undergone stem cell transplant are at increased risk for fungal infections. Also, medications to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, or other chronic health problems, as well as chemotherapy and radiation therapy to treat cancer can weaken your immune system and increase your risk.
  4. Do you have symptoms that have not responded to treatment? If you're taking medications (e.g., antiviral drug, antibiotic) to treat flu-like symptoms and your symptoms worsen or do not improve, contact your health care provider. You may have a fungal infection rather than a virus of bacterial infection.
  5. Have you recently been in the hospital? Talk to your health care team about steps they are taking to help prevent the spread of health care-associated infections and about what you can do—while you're in the hospital and after you've been discharged. Patients who have a weakened immune system and those who are seriously ill (e.g., those in intensive care [ICU]) are at the highest risk for fungal infections. Certain medical devices (e.g., venous catheters), wounds (e.g., cuts, burns), surgical procedures, and hospital construction also increase the risk for infection.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 26 Feb 2014

Last Modified: 26 Feb 2014