Doubtful theory

In response to Ruth Koerner’s letter appearing in the Wednesday edition of The Northern Star concerning histoplasmosis, I feel that further investigation should be made before we tie goose droppings to Ruth’s unfortunate loss of sight. After a very brief look through the reference section of our library, I found histoplasmosis to be a fungal infection caused by inhalation of histoplasma capsulatum, a soil fungus that grows on decaying vegetation. The degree of infection depends on the amount of fungal spores inhaled, but is USUALLY limited to the lungs. The worst case of histoplasmosis is chronic cauitary pulmonary disease which is indicated by pronounced lung changes, sputum producing coughs, and disabling shortness of breath along with many minor symptoms. No mention in any source was made of danger to eyesight, and although fowl droppings are believed to encourage growth of histoplasma capsulatum, they are not believe to carry it.

I don’t doubt that histoplasmosis caused Ruth Koerner to lose 40 percent of her vision in one eye, but I don’t feel that the water fowl around our pond pose a significant health threat to the community, either.

Kenneth Marsh


Asian Studies