Subject: Danger of Histoplasmosis infection to cavers
From: "Yahya Al Rayyes"
Date: Mon, November 19, 2007 7:26 am
Dear Saudi caves members,
I'm emailing you today with a great concern regarding some of the
practices that has been shown via pictures on your website. I'm not sure
if the members of this association are aware of the immanent danger of
being exposed or contracting a disease called Histoplasmosis caused by
an opportunistic fungus called Histoplasma capsulatum . This disease is
a serious and some times become devastating to the infected person. I'm
offering some advice regarding minimizing your exposure to this serious
infection while practicing the caving activities. I can forward to you
some literature and instructions regarding personal protection against
this pulmonary disease if you like to. This disease is my specialty and
was the topic of my master's thesis when I graduate from the college of
public health at the University of Kentucky. If you are interested in
further information please feel free to contact me via this email.
Yahya Al Rayyes MPH, CIEC, ES
Lecturer and occupational safety practitioner
The Petroleum Institute
Many thanks for contacting us!
We are extremely interested in taking advantage of your expertise regarding histoplasmosis. My wife and I happen to
be very familiar with the disease because our home is in western Mexico (near the city of Guadalajara)and in this area
almost every cave we have seen has histoplasma capsulatum growing on the guano. In fact, we consider the Mexican state
of Jalisco to be the "histo capital of the world."
Our question to you is: how can we find out for sure whether or not the guano in Saudi caves actually has this fungus?
Over a period of 25 years we have taken great numbers of people into both limestone and lava caves in Saudi Arabia. In
general, no one has shown any symptoms of histo during all this time. However, in two caves we did see some lung
problems after exposure to a lot of dust.
I would like to collect samples of guano from several Saudi caves for analysis for histoplasma capsulatum but I don't
know a lab that would be willing to do this for us. Can you help us?