Cryptococcosis is a disease caused by the yeast-like fungus, Cryptococcosis neoformans. The fungus is found frequently in the environment, particularly in pigeon droppings, nesting places, and soil, especially if it is contaminated with pigeon feces. It has also been associated with certain species of eucalyptus trees. Therefore, exposure to the fungus is common and it is believed that humans have a high natural resistance to infection. People who have disorders of immunity have less resistance and are more susceptible to developing the disease. Naturally acquired cryptococcosis occurs in humans and in animals although there is no evidence of transmission from animals to humans. Cryptococcal meningitis, if untreated, is fatal within weeks to months.
The infection may spread to the brain in people who have a weakened immune system. Neurological (brain) symptoms start slowly. Most people have swelling and irritation of the brain and spinal cord when they are diagnosed. Symptoms of brain infection may include:
Other symptoms may include:
People with a healthy immune system may have no symptoms at all.
The following tests are used to diagnose Cryptococcosis:
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