An Outbreak of Acute Histoplasmosis Associated with a Gull Rookery in Rogers City, Michigan
Kline, Teresa L.
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An outbreak of acute pulmonary histoplasmosis occurred among quarry employees of the Limestone Operations in Rogers City, Michigan. One hundred thirteen clinical cases were identified. Abnormal findings on chest radiographs were found in 56 patients from whom they were obtained. The characteristics of illness included fever, chills, non-productive cough, myalgias, malaise, headache, back pain, and chest pain. Epidemiological analysis led to the delineation of the mode of transmission as well as the source of the infection. Risk of illness was associated with presence in the vessel repair building during the dissemination of Histoplasma capsulatum spores on January 9 and 10, 1980. The spores were introduced into the building by a work project involving a piece of equipment brought in from storage of the breakwall, a spit extending approximately one-half mile into Lake Huron. The breakwall provides a nesting site for more than 8000 pairs of gulls. The two species which inhabit the area, ringbilled gulls (Larus delawarensis) and herring gulls (Larus argentatus) have been on the breakwall for approximately fifty years. Presence of the fungus, H. capsulatum, has traditionally been linked to the availability of avian feces. This outbreak represents the first association between histoplasmosis and gulls.