Boy Scout campers hospitalized after contracting rare soil disease at Camp Avondale; CDC investigating

At least two Boy Scout campers who returned from a recent trip with fevers, chills and a cough have been hospitalized for exposure to a rare and unusual disease linked to bird and bat droppings found in the soil, spurring involvement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

St. Francisville resident Emiley Bonano has been battling histoplasmosis — a condition caused by inhaling a fungus found in bird and bat waste — since she traveled to Camp Avondale, located in East Feliciana Parish, with her little brother’s Boy Scout troop in early November.

She became sick with flu-like symptoms about a week after their return and went to the doctor, but didn’t think a recent camping trip significant enough to mention as a possible cause for her unrelenting symptoms.

Emiley’s family spent weeks in and out of emergency rooms trying to pinpoint the cause of the 16-year-old’s illness. Finally, a doctor saw unusual white spots covering the teenager’s lungs in an X-ray and asked whether she had spent much time outdoors recently.

Emiley’s mom, Michelle Duos, said Thursday that her daughter has been hospitalized since Nov. 21, completing an intensive week-long round of intravenous medication that will be followed by three months of an oral drug to help with symptoms.

The condition is so severe she’s been hooked up to an oxygen machine and likely will not return to school until next year.

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