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February 1960

Cave Disease or Speleonosis

Author Affiliations

6400 Kedzie Ave. Chicago 29

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1960;105(2):181-183. doi:10.1001/archinte.1960.00270140003001

That histoplasmosis may originate from the inhalation of dust from caves is more than suggested by reports from the United States, South Africa, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, and Venezuela. The first report was that of Cain et al. who, in May, 1947, described an unusual pulmonary disease which occurred in March, 1944, involving 26 men who spent some time in an abandoned storm cellar at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma. A dead opossum was found near the entrance to the cellar. The period of incubation was 11 days. The illness began with malaise, muscular aching, and fatigue, followed in 24 hours by a chill with re-mitting fever, sweating, constricting pain in the chest, cough, and epistaxis. The physical findings consisted of scattered areas of dullness over the lungs, with diminished breath sounds and occasional rales. X-rays of the lungs showed numerous small areas of infiltration 1 to 20 mm. in diameter scattered

Dean raised the interesting question as to whether the curse of the Pharaoh's may have been cave disease. Lord Carnarvon died six weeks after a mosquito bite followed by pneumonia after having opened up the tomb of King Tutankhamen in 1923, but there is no proof that Carnarvon had histoplasmosis.
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Cain, J. C.; Devins, E. J., and Downing, J. E.:  An Unusual Pulmonary Disease ,  Arch. Int. Med. 79:626, 1947.Crossref
Campins, H.; Zubillaga, C.; Gómez López, L., and Dorante, M.:  Estudio de una epidemia de histoplasmosis en el Estado Lara, Venezuela ,  Gac. méd Caracas 62:85, 1955.
Dean, G.:  Cave Disease ,  Central African J.M. 3:79, 1957.
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Furcolow, M. L.:  Recent Studies on the Epidemiology of Histoplasmosis ,  Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sc. 72:129, 1958.Crossref
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Washburn, A. M.; Tuohy, J. H., and Davis, E. L.:  Cave Disease—a New Disease Entity?  Am. J. Pub. Health 38:1521, 1948.Crossref