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Volume 27, Number 3—March 2021
Etymologia

Etymologia: Histoplasma capsulatum

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Monika MahajanComments to Author 
Author affiliation: Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India

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Histoplasma capsulatum [hĭs′tə-plăz′mə kăp′sə-lā′təm]

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Numerous, capsulated yeast cells (shown in pink) of Histoplasma capsulatum in a bone marrow aspirate (Giemsa-stained, original magnification ×400). Source: Shivaprakash Rudramurthy, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India.

Figure. Numerous, capsulated yeast cells (shown in pink) of Histoplasma capsulatum in a bone marrow aspirate (Giemsa-stained, original magnification ×400). Source: Shivaprakash Rudramurthy, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India.

In 1905, Samuel Taylor Darling serendipitously identified a protozoan-like microorganism in an autopsy specimen while trying to understand malaria, which was prevalent during the construction of the Panama Canal. He named this microorganism Histoplasma capsulatum because it invaded the cytoplasm (plasma) of histiocyte-like cells (Histo) and had a refractive halo mimicking a capsule (capsulatum), a misnomer (Figure).

Histoplasma capsulatum, a dimorphic fungus, now belongs to Kingdom Fungi and causes histoplasmosis (Darling’s disease) through inhalation of spores found in soil and bird droppings. The fungus thrives in the central and eastern parts of United States, especially around the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys, and in South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Three varieties exist globally: H. capsulatum var. capsulatum, H. capsulatum var. duboisii, and H. capsulatum var. farciminosum.

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References

  1. Darling  ST. A protozoon general infection producing pseudotubercules in the lungs and focal necrosis in the liver, spleen, and lymphnodes. JAMA. 1906;46:1283. DOI
  2. Hagan  T. The discovery and naming of histoplasmosis: Samuel Taylor Darling. JAMA. 1903;40:19057 http://www.antimicrobe.org/hisphoto/history/Discovery%20of%20Histoplasmosis-Darling.asp cited 2020 Nov 19.
  3. Histoplasmosis, types of diseases, fungal diseases, CDC [cited 2020 Aug 21]. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/histoplasmosis/
  4. Ramsey  TL, Applebaum  AA. Histoplasmosis “darling.”. Am J Clin Pathol. 1942;12:8594. DOI
  5. Slavin  MA, Chakrabarti  A. Opportunistic fungal infections in the Asia-Pacific region. Med Mycol. 2012;50:1825. DOIPubMed

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DOI: 10.3201/eid2703.et2703

Original Publication Date: February 10, 2021

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Table of Contents – Volume 27, Number 3—March 2021

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Monika Mahajan, Department of Medical Microbiology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Research Block A, Sector 12, UT Chandigarh 160012, India

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Page created: February 10, 2021
Page updated: February 22, 2021
Page reviewed: February 22, 2021
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
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