- What is Cryptococcus?
- Who gets cryptococcosis?
- How is Cryptococcus spread?
- What are the symptoms and signs of a cryptococcal infection?
- How soon do symptoms and signs appear?
- If I have symptoms and signs, should I see my doctor?
- How is a cryptococcal infection diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for cryptococcal infections?
- How can cryptococcal infections be prevented?
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.
How soon do symptoms appear?
Incubation times vary for infection due to Cryptococcus species. Symptoms from C. gattii infection are estimated to begin anywhere from 2-11 months after exposure. The incubation time for C. neoformans is not known.
If I have symptoms, should I see my doctor?
Yes, it is very important to seek immediate medical evaluation.
How is a cryptococcal infection diagnosed?
The diagnosis can be made by microscopic examination and/or culture of tissue or body fluids such as blood, cerebrospinal fluid and sputum. The cryptococcal antigen test is a rapid test that can be performed on blood and/or on cerebrospinal fluid to make the diagnosis.
How are cryptococcal infections treated?
Treatment of meningoencephalitis and other severe infections is usually initiated with an amphotericin B formulation, with or without flucytosine. Fluconazole is used for maintenance therapy in HIV-infected patients with cryptococcal meningoencephalitis, and may be used for patients with milder forms of infection not involving the central nervous system.
How can cryptococcal infections be prevented?
C. neoformans is commonly spread by bird droppings, especially pigeon droppings. People who have weakened immune systems should avoid areas contaminated by bird droppings, and should avoid contact with birds. There are no formal recommendations for the prevention of C. gattii infection.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Top Cryptococcosis Related Articles
FeverAlthough a fever technically is any body temperature above the normal of 98.6 F (37 C), in practice, a person is usually not considered to have a significant fever until the temperature is above 100.4 F (38 C). Fever is part of the body's own disease-fighting arsenal; rising body temperatures apparently are capable of killing off many disease-producing organisms.
AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV infection. Symptoms and signs of AIDS include pneumonia due to Pneumocystis jiroveci, tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, seizures, weakness, meningitis, yeast infection of the esophagus, and Kaposi's sarcoma. Anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) is used in the treatment of AIDS.
Chronic CoughChronic cough is a cough that does not go away and is generally a symptom of another disorder such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, sinus infection, cigarette smoking, GERD, postnasal drip, bronchitis, pneumonia, medications, and less frequently tumors or other lung disease.
Chronic cough treatment is based on the cause, but may be soothed natural and home remedies.
fluconazoleDiflucan (fluconazole) is a drug prescribed to treat fungal infections caused by Candida, for example, vaginal, oral, esophageal, urinary tract, pneumonia, and peritonitis. Side effects include nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, rash, indigestion, and abdominal pain. Drug interactions, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed before taking this medication.
HeadacheHeadaches can be divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches are considered primary headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by disease. Headache symptoms vary with the headache type. Over-the-counter pain relievers provide short-term relief for most headaches.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection left untreated causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a type of virus called a retrovirus, which can infect humans when it comes in contact with tissues that line the vagina, anal area, mouth, or eyes, or through a break in the skin. HIV infection is generally a slowly progressive disease in which the virus is present throughout the body at all stages of the disease. Three stages of HIV infection have been described. The initial stage of infection (primary infection), which occurs within weeks of acquiring the virus, often is characterized by the flu- or mono-like illness that generally resolves within weeks. The stage of chronic asymptomatic infection (meaning a long duration of infection without symptoms) lasts an average of eight to 10 years without treatment. The stage of symptomatic infection, in which the body's immune (or defense) system has been suppressed and complications have developed, is called the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The symptoms are caused by the complications of AIDS, which include one or more unusual infections or cancers, severe loss of weight, and intellectual deterioration (called dementia). When HIV grows (that is, by reproducing itself), it acquires the ability to change (mutate) its own structure. These mutations enable the virus to become resistant to previously effective drug therapy. The goals of drug therapy are to prevent damage to the immune system by the HIV virus and to halt or delay the progress of the infection to symptomatic disease. Therapy for HIV includes combinations of drugs that decrease the growth of the virus to such an extent that the treatment prevents or markedly delays the development of viral resistance to the drugs. The best combination of drugs for HIV are those that effectively suppress viral replication in the blood and also are well tolerated and simple to take so that people can take the medications consistently without missing doses.
Molluscum ContagiosumMolluscum contagiosum is a skin disease that causes painless pink bumps on the skin. Learn about treatment, home remedies, and other symptoms associated with this viral infection.
PneumoniaPneumonia is inflammation of the lungs caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Symptoms and signs include cough, fever, shortness of breath, and chills. Antibiotics treat pneumonia, and the choice of the antibiotic depends upon the cause of the infection.
What Is Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)?Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) is a disease caused by the inhalation of the Coccidioides immitis or C. posadasii fungus. Symptoms are flu-like and resolve over two to six weeks. Infection typically requires no treatment, though there are many antifungal drugs to treat valley fever.