• Cryptococcus neoformans is a fungus that lives in the environment.
  • Infection from C. Neoformans is called cryptococcosis.
  • This infection attacks the lungs and the central nervous system, specifically the brain and spine.

  • The cryptococcus fungus lives and can be found worldwide, typically found in soil, on old and decaying wood.

  • People can be infected through inhalation of the fungus.
  • Fortunately, most people who are exposed to the fungus do not get sick.
  • Infection is very rare, especially those who are very healthy.
  • However, those with weakened immune systems cause by illnesses such as HIV/AIDS have an increased risk of getting infected and fighting the infection.
  • Fortunately, this infection is not contagious.


When C. neoformans infects the lungs, the symptoms are similar to pneumonia, and include:

  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Trouble breathing

If the brain is infected, symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Sensitivity to light 
  • Changes in behavior due to confusion

  • Treatment can last longer than 6 months and is done through antifungal prescription medications all depending on how severe the conditions are.
  • Treatment for children and pregnant varies from other cases as well.

  • Preventing Cryptococcosis can be difficult because it is hard not to breathe in air from the environment.
  • Early detection can also be difficult because symptoms can start weeks after infection.
  • Fortunately, most people never experience symptoms of cryptococcosis.

  • Although it is rare, pets and other animals can get cryptococcosis, but cannot transmit it to humans.

Other Facts
  • Along with inhalation of the fungus, infection can occur through bird droppings and unwashed fruit.