The endemic mimic: blastomycosis an illness often misdiagnosed

Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2014:125:188-202; discussion 202-3.


One of the endemic fungi, Blastomyces dermatitidis, can cause epidemics of infection with multiple persons involved in a point source outbreak but more commonly causes sporadic cases of infection within the areas of endemicity. Blastomycosis can present as an acute pneumonia which is often misdiagnosed as acute pneumococcal pneumonia or the infection may present as a chronic pneumonia along with weight loss, night sweats, hemoptysis, and a lung mass suggesting tuberculosis or carcinoma of the lung. Extrapulmonary infection with B. dermatitidis is protean with many different manifestations. Most commonly, skin or subcutaneous lesions are found with either a verrucous or warty appearance or in an ulcerative form. Cases have been misidentified as keratoacanthoma, pyoderma gangrenosum, carcinoma, or as Weber-Christian panniculitis if there are nodular subcutaneous lesions. Essentially any site or organ can have lesions of disseminated blastomycosis. In our series, cases of laryngeal carcinoma, adrenal insufficiency, thyroid nodules, granulomatous hypercalcemia, abnormal mammograms thought to represent breast carcinoma, otitis media with cranial extension, immune thrombocytopenic purpura, and hemolytic anemia of unknown cause have been misdiagnosed and blastomycosis subsequently identified as the cause. This infection causes manifestations which mimic many other more commonly diagnosed conditions and must always be considered by clinicians practicing in the endemic region.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blastomycosis / diagnosis*
  • Blastomycosis / drug therapy
  • Blastomycosis / epidemiology
  • Blastomycosis / microbiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Errors / prevention & control
  • Endemic Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Remission Induction
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antifungal Agents