• Definition
    • Cryptococcosis is infection with Cryptococcus neoformans fungus.

  • Causes
    • Cryptococcus neoformans is the fungus that causes this disease. It is usually found in soil. If you breathe it in, it infects your lungs. The infection may go away on its own, remain in the lungs only, or spread throughout the body (disseminate).

      This infection is most often seen in people with a weakened immune system, such as those who:

      • Are infected with HIV
      • Take high doses of corticosteroid medications
      • Are on chemotherapy drugs for cancer
      • Have Hodgkin's disease

      Cryptococcus is the most common life-threatening fungal infection in people with AIDS.

  • Symptoms
  • Exams and Tests
    • Physical examination may reveal:

      • Abnormal breath sounds
      • Fast heart rate
      • Fever
      • Mental status changes
      • Stiff neck

      Tests that may be done include:

  • Treatment
    • Some infections require no treatment. Even so, there should be regular check-ups for a full year to make sure the infection has not spread. If there are lung lesions or the disease spreads, antifungal medications are prescribed. These drugs may need to be taken for a long time.

      Medications include:

      • Amphotericin B
      • Flucytosine
      • Fluconazole

      Amphotericin B can have severe side effects.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)
  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of cryptococcosis, especially if you have a weakened immune system.

  • References
    • Kauffman CA. Cryptococcosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 344.