Cryptococcus is a disease caused by fungi of the genus Cryptococcus that infect humans usually by inhaling the infectious organisms, resulting in a lung infection that can spread and affect the brain, causing meningoencephalitis.

The predominant way of spreading the disease is by inhalation of the fungus, which is shed through the faeces of many species of birds, especially old pigeons, as well as in the guano of bats.

Cryptococcus spp are found in the faeces of birds worldwide, mainly the C. Neoformans strain, but they are usually not infected by themselves.

People usually become infected by inhaling dust contaminated with bird droppings and cannot pass the fungus on to others. However, C. Gattii are a type of streptococci that are acquired by inhaling plant material from the air, most commonly seeds and spores from plants.

Until a few years ago, all C. Gattii infections were associated with plants found in tropical and subtropical climates. But that has changed as an outbreak has emerged in the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver Island, Washington and Oregon). The majority of infections are caused by C. neoformans and C. Gattii.

What are the symptoms?

Some researchers indicate that the first sign that the risk of infection in an area is increased is the detection of the disease in animals, especially domestic animals.

Although animals cannot directly infect humans, disease in them increases the likelihood that humans will also be exposed to strep.

People with lung and central nervous system diseases who have visited places where the disease has been detected in animals should be tested.

The majority of symptoms appear in the lungs and brain. Below is a list of the most common symptoms:

• Fever;
• Malaise;
• Pleural chest pain – sharp pain that occurs over the area of ​​inflammation and worsens with inhalation;
• Cough that is usually dry;
Hemoptysis – bloody sputum or mixed with blood;
• Headache;
• Negative visual changes – blurry or double vision, photophobia;
• Nausea and vomiting;
• Changes in mental status – drowsiness and confusion;
• Development of meningitis;< br/> • Seizures;
• Coma;

Some people also develop skin changes – rash, pustules, nodules or ulcers.

Treatment of cryptococcosis

The method of treatment and the drugs that are administered are determined after assessing the general condition of the patient.

Patients whose immune system is not compromised are treated with amphotericin B /about 6-10 weeks/ or in combination with flucytosine /about 2 weeks/.

This therapy was followed by treatment with fluconazole for at least another 10 weeks. It is used for severe lung and brain infections. Mild infections in the lungs can heal by themselves, but the patient must be monitored to avoid recurrence or very slow progression of the infection.

In some patients, surgery may be required to reduce or remove the fungal mass. The goal of treatment is to completely destroy the fungus. However, for some of the patients, this is not possible and the treatment in such a case is carried out entirely with medication.

Most health experts state that in order to prescribe the appropriate treatment for the fungal infection, it is necessary to consult an infectious disease specialist who will be able to determine the most appropriate dosage of fungicides.

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