Cryptococcus Gattii Takes Toll on 15 in U.S. Pacific Northwest in 6 Years

Health officials reveal that about 15 people died of a tropical fungus called Cryptococcus gattii, in the U. S. Pacific Northwest in about six years. The cases are described in the weekly report on death and disease by the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which got published online on Friday.

Patients infected from this fungus have symptoms like cough, shortness of breath, headache, fever, weight loss and neck stiffness. About 272 cases have been recorded by the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, since
1999. Among these cases, about 191 patients belonged to Vancouver Island.

According to the information on the BCCDC website, the sickness can affect the lungs and nervous system of humans. As per the report, about 60 U. S. cases of C. gattii, 43 cases were in Oregon, 15 belonged to Washington and one case each was from California and Idaho.

The report said, “Physicians should consider C. gattii as a possible etiology of infection when treating patients who have signs and symptoms of cryptococcal infection, and should ask patients about recent travel to the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, or other C. gattii-endemic areas”.

There is a possibility that people, who were afflicted with the fungus, may be sick for a long time.

About 6 people died of the 21 in the recent C. gattii cases in the Pacific Northwest, as compared to 19 out of 218 known cases in British Columbia, as per the analysis in the U. S. in April.

Though, there is no vaccine for the same, but there is an antifungal medication to treat the infection.