Histoplasmosis infection in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 1998-2009

BMC Infect Dis. 2011 May 23:11:145. doi: 10.1186/1471-2334-11-145.


Background: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusions: 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / epidemiology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / microbiology
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Endemic Diseases
  • Female
  • Histoplasmosis / complications*
  • Histoplasmosis / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha