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What is cryptococcosis?

Cryptococcosis is a fungal infection caused by Cryptococcus neoformans. It is spread through contact with an infected individual, pigeon feces, and unwashed raw fruit, and those who have a weakened immune system due to another condition, such as HIV, are at a higher risk. It also occurs mainly in the Southeastern United States, and males aged 40 to 60 are predominantly affected. 

This infection typically starts in the lungs before spreading to other parts of the body. The brain, skin, bones, and urinary tract are all possible places that cryptococcosis spreads. 

What are the symptoms of cryptococcosis?

The symptoms of this infection are dependent on which part of the body it is affecting. The most common organ affected is the lungs, and symptoms are coughing and chest pain. Large masses can accumulate in the lobes of the lungs, lymph nodes swell, and fluid may build up in the lungs as well. Segmental pneumonia is another common pulmonary sample.

When cryptococcosis spreads, it tends to head for the central nervous system, specifically the brain. This is dangerous as meningitis is a common complication of this infection. Other symptoms that come when this disease spreads to the brain are an abnormally large head, failing sight, central nervous system infections, and others.  

Skin symptoms may include bumps filled with fluid, ulcerous sores, and patches of hardened skin. Infections may occur in the eyes, heart, ears, kidneys, and digestive system due to cryptococcosis as well. 

There are also general symptoms. These are:

  • Chest pain
  • Dry cough
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Swollen glands
  • Excessive sweating at night
  • Skin rash
  • Bleeding into the skin
  • Bruises
  • Pinpoint red spots
  • Weight and appetite loss
  • Abdominal pain, swelling, and bloating
  • Weakness
  • Bone pain
  • Numbness/tingling 

What causes cryptococcosis?

A fungus called Cryptococcus neoforman is the cause of this infection. It is spread through pigeon feces, contact with infected individuals, or raw and unwashed fruit.

How is cryptococcosis diagnosed?

A diagnosis comes once a medical professional has found Cryptococcus neoforman in the bodily fluid or tissue. The fungus can be seen under a microscope, but at times a fluid sample must be taken to see if it is present.

What are the treatments for cryptococcosis?

Antibiotics like Fluconazole, Flucytosine, and Amphotericin B are all used to treat this infection. Side effects are common, so people taking these medications should be monitored. If one who receives treatment for this infection has another condition that weakens the immune system, they should be given prolonged treatment to prevent relapses. 

Where can I find out more about cryptococcosis?

Cryptococcosis Articles