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Definition of C. neoformans Infection

A photomicrograph of Cryptococcus neoformans using a light India ink staining preparation. Credit: CDC/ Dr. Leanor Haley.

A photomicrograph of C. neoformans stained with India ink.

Cryptococcus neoformans (abbreviated C. neoformans) is a fungus that lives in the environment throughout the world. People can become infected with C. neoformans after breathing in the microscopic fungus, although most people who are exposed to the fungus never get sick from it.

Infection with the fungus Cryptococcus (either C. neoformans or C. gattii) is called cryptococcosis. Cryptococcosis usually affects the lungs or the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), but it can also affect other parts of the body. Brain infections due to the fungus Cryptococcus are called cryptococcal meningitis.

C. neoformans infections are extremely rare in people who are otherwise healthy. Most cases of C. neoformans infection occur in people who have weakened immune systems, particularly those who have advanced HIV/AIDS.

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