Cryptococcosis epidemiology

Cryptococcus neoformans is an encapsulated yeast that can infect apparently normal hosts but is more frequently associated with severe infections in immunocompromised patients. C. neoformans is divided into two varieties based on serotype: C. neoformans var. neoformans (serotypes a and d) and C. neoformans var. gatti (serotypes b and c). C. neoformans var. gatti is found predominantly in tropical and subtropical climates associated with eucalyptus trees, whereas C. neoformans var. neoformans is found worldwide and is associated with pigeon droppings and other avian excreta. Before the AIDS pandemic, cryptococcosis was a relatively uncommon disease but became a leading cause of meningitis among HIV-infected patients. Although the incidence of this infection has declined somewhat with the widespread use ofhighly active antiret-roviral therapy (HAART), C. neoformans remains an important pathogen in immuno-compromised patients, including cancer patients who often present with the pulmonary form of the infection.

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