• Cryptococcus neoformans is a fungus that lives in the environment.
  • Infection from C. Neoformans is called cryptococcosis.
  • This infection attacks the lungs and the central nervous system, specifically the brain and spine.
  • The Cryptococcus fungus lives and can be found worldwide, typically found in soil, on old and decaying wood.
  • People can be infected through inhalation of the fungus.
  • Fortunately, most people who are exposed to the fungus do not get sick.
  • Infection is very rare, especially for those who are very healthy.
  • Those with weakened immune systems caused by illnesses such as HIV/AIDS have an increased risk of getting infected.
  • Fortunately, this infection is not contagious.
  • When C. neoformans infects the lungs, the symptoms are similar to pneumonia and include:
    • Coughing
    • Chest pain
    • Fever
    • Trouble breathing
  • If the brain is infected, symptoms may include:
    • Headache
    • Fever
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Neck pain
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Changes in behavior due to confusion
  • Treatment can last longer than 6 months and is done through antifungal prescription medications, depending on how severe the conditions are.
  • Treatment for children and pregnant women varies from other cases as well.
  • Preventing Cryptococcosis can be difficult because it is hard not to breathe in air from the environment.
  • Early detection can also be difficult because symptoms can start weeks after infection.
  • Fortunately, most people never experience symptoms of Cryptococcosis.
  • Although it is rare, pets and other animals can get Cryptococcosis but cannot transmit it to humans.
Other Facts
  • Along with inhalation of the fungus, infection can occur through bird droppings and unwashed fruit.