Cryptococcus is found worldwide in the soil, usually in bird droppings, especially pigeon droppings - and in soil contaminated with bird droppings. Humans can get cryptococcal infection by inhalation of airborne fungi which are spread from these sources. Cryptococcosis is not known to be spread from person to person, animal to animal, or from animals to humans.
The most common species is Cryptococcus Neoformans. 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. Symptoms may include fever, headache, or a change in mental status.
Cryptococcus gattii is the second species known to cause infection. Spores appear to live in certain trees and the soil around trees. Eucaluptus plants seem to be a high carrier of this fungus. Humans can become infected by inhalation of airborne fungi which are spread from these sources. Infections with C. gattii have occurred in healthy persons without compromised immune systems and in persons with conditions affecting their immune system. A wide range of animals can also develop infection from C. gattii cryptococcosis.
Infection may cause a pneumonia-like illness, with shortness of breath, coughing, nausea, and fever. C. gattii infection can also cause a central nervous system infection, such as meningoencephalitis. Symptoms are as listed above and are estimated to begin anywhere from 2-14 months after exposure.
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