Cryptococcosis is caused by various varieties of yeast, most commonly Cryptococcus neoformans.
If inhaled, these yeasts can cause infection of the brain and other organs. It is a zoonotic disease affecting people, cats, dogs, horses, cattle, sheep, ferrets and koalas.
|Where the disease occurs|
The disease has a world-wide distribution but is extremely rare in Queensland.
|The disease in animals|
Infection can occur in most species, either as a generalised disease or meningoencephalitis. It is listed as a cause of bovine mastitis.
|How people get the disease|
The yeasts are commonly found in the excretions of pigeons and starlings that accumulate in old buildings, church towers and in soil. The yeasts grow using the nutrients within the faeces. People usually become infected by inhaling the contaminated dust.
Many people are exposed to the yeasts without developing the disease. Anyone who frequents contaminated areas is at risk. People with a disability or who are compromised by other diseases are particularly susceptible to cryptococcosis. The disease is a common infection of people affected by HIV-AIDS.
In Australia the disease tends to affect adult males more commonly. However, in the Northern Territory, Aboriginal people are more prone to the disease.
|Treatments for people|
Antifungal agents are required to treat the disease. The course of treatment is long and toxicity problems may occur in response to some drugs.
|Preventing disease in people|
Last updated 08 January 2014