Stories From the Field
Fighting a deadly fungus: A new strategy to prevent deaths due to Cryptococcus
In sub-Saharan Africa, Cryptococcal meningitis is estimated to kill more people than tuberculosis.
In people with weakened immune systems, the fungus Cryptococcus causes life-threatening meningeal infections in nearly a million people every year. Cryptococcus is the most common cause of meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa, and is a leading cause of death among people with HIV. Expert economists from the Copenhagen Consensus Center recently ranked the prevention of cryptococcal meningitis 12th on their list of priorities for their RethinkHIV research initiative, which aims to reduce HIV-related mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.
Although it is not possible to prevent the initial infection with Cryptococcus, screening for cryptococcal antigen can detect disease before meningitis develops so treatment can begin and prevent death. A rapid, point-of-care dipstick test is now available for use in screening. CDC is working with countries to implement cryptococcal death prevention programs where screening strategies could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year.