What is Cryptococcus?
Cryptococcus is a type of fungus that is found in the soil worldwide, usually in association with bird droppings. The major species of Cryptococcus that causes illness in human is Cryptococcus neoformans. Another less common species that can also cause disease in humans, Cryptococcus gattii, has been isolated from eucalyptus trees in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Since 1999, C. gattii has also been found in regions of the Pacific Northwest, particularly Victoria Island in British Columbia, and Oregon and Washington in the United States.
Who gets cryptococcosis?
Cryptococcosis is disease due to a species of the fungus Cryptococcus. C. neoformans typically infects immunocompromised persons. Most people in the United States who develop cryptococcal infections are HIV-positive. However, occasionally persons with no apparent immune system problems develop cryptococcosis. Infections with C. gattii have also occurred in healthy persons without compromised immune systems.
How is Cryptococcus spread?
Inhalation of airborne fungi. Cryptococcosis is not known to be spread from person to person.
What are the symptoms of a cryptococcal infection?
Cryptococcal infection may cause a pneumonia-like illness, with shortness of breath, coughing and fever. Skin lesions may also occur. Another common form of cryptococcosis is central nervous system infection, such as meningoencephalitis. People with cryptococcal meningoencephalitis are usually immunocompromised. Symptoms may include fever, headache, or change in mental status.