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Sources of C. neoformans

Where does C. neoformans live?

C. neoformans lives in the environment throughout the world. The fungus is typically found in soil, on decaying wood, in tree hollows, or in bird droppings.1,2

How does someone get a C. neoformans infection?

C. neoformans infections are not contagious. Humans and animals can get the infection after inhaling the microscopic fungus from the environment. Some research suggests that people may be exposed to C. neoformans in the environment when they are children.3 Most people who breathe in C. neoformans never get sick from it. However, in people who have weakened immune systems, C. neoformans can stay hidden in the body and cause infection later when the immune system becomes too weak to fight it off.4


  1. Sorrell TC, Ellis DH. Ecology of Cryptococcus neoformans. Rev Iberoam Micol. 1997 Jun;14(2):42-3.
  2. Lazera MS, Salmito Cavalcanti MA, Londero AT, Trilles L, Nishikawa MM, Wanke B. Possible primary ecological niche of Cryptococcus neoformans. Med Mycol. 2000 Oct;38(5):379-83.
  3. Goldman DL, Khine H, Abadi J, Lindenberg DJ, Pirofski L, Niang R, et al. Serologic evidence for Cryptococcus neoformans infection in early childhood. Pediatrics. 2001 May;107(5):E66.
  4. Saha DC, Goldman DL, Shao X, Casadevall A, Husain S, Limaye AP, et al. Serologic evidence for reactivation of cryptococcosis in solid-organ transplant recipients. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2007 Dec;14(12):1550-4.