Cryptococcal disease, or cryptococcosis, due to infection with spores of Cryptococcus gattii is a relative new-comer to the list of diseases native to B.C., first appearing in 1999. Disease due to this species of fungus is rare, but can be serious, resulting in pneumonia or meningitis. It can take several months to incubate after exposure. Fortunately, not many people exposed to the spores will become ill, and we are still learning much about it.
Cryptococcus gattii is related to C. neoformans, which occurs all over the world. C. gattii was previously associated with tropical and subtropical areas until it emerged on Vancouver Island. Around 2004, the fungus spread to the BC Lower Mainland and later into the Pacific Northwestern US. Vancouver Island has one of the highest rates of infection in the world. Although the fungus grows on land, in forested areas, dolphins have been known to get infected!
Information for Health Professionals
Last Updated: March 1, 2012