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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Histoplasmosis infection in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 1998-2009

Timothy C Olson, Tim Bongartz, Cynthia S Crowson, Glenn D Roberts, Robert Orenstein and Eric L Matteson*

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Internal Medicine (TCO), Division of Rheumatology (TB, ELM, Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics (CSC), Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (GDR), and Division of Infectious Diseases (RO), Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota, 55905, USA

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:145  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-145

Published: 23 May 2011



Patients with rheumatic diseases including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at increased risk for infections related to both the disease and its treatments. These include uncommonly reported infections due to histoplasmosis.


Medical record review of all patients with a diagnosis of RA who developed new histoplasmosis infection in an endemic region between Jan 1, 1998 and Jan 30, 2009 and who were seen at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota was performed.


Histoplasmosis was diagnosed in 26 patients. Most patients were on combination therapies; 15 were on anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) agents, 15 on corticosteroids and 16 on methotrexate. Most received more than 6 months of itraconazole and/or amphotericin treatment. Two patients died of causes unrelated to histoplasmosis. Anti-TNF treatment was restarted in 4/15 patients, with recurrence of histoplasmosis in one.


In this largest single center series of patients with RA and histoplasmosis in the era of immunomodulatory therapy, we found that most patients had longstanding disease and were on multiple immunomodulatory agents. Most cases were pulmonary; typical signs and symptoms of disease were frequently lacking.

Histoplasmosis; rheumatoid arthritis