C. gattii Infection Risk & Prevention
Who gets C. gattii infections?
Anyone can be infected with C. gattii if they’ve been in an area where the fungus lives in the environment. However, in different parts of the world, different characteristics may make some people more likely to get C. gattii infections than others. For example, in Australia and New Zealand, C. gattii infections are thought to be more common among people who are otherwise healthy, males, and people of Australian aborigine ethnicity.1 However, a study of people who got C. gattii infections in British Columbia, Canada2 found that the disease was more likely to occur in people who:
- Have weakened immune systems, for example, by:
- Cancer treatment
- Medications that weaken the immune system such as corticosteroids
- Have other lung conditions
- Are 50 years of age or older
- Smoke tobacco
Scientists are still learning about why C. gattii appears to affect different groups of people in different areas of the world.
Is C. gattii infection contagious?
No. The infection can’t spread between people or between people and animals.
Can pets get C. gattii infections?
Yes. Pets can get C. gattii infections, but it is very rare, and the infection cannot spread between animals and people. The symptoms of C. gattii infection in pets such as cats and dogs are similar to the symptoms in humans.2 If you’re concerned about your pet’s risk of getting a C. gattii infection, or if you think that your pet has the infection, please talk to a veterinarian.
How can I prevent a C. gattii infection?
There are no formal recommendations to prevent C. gattii infection. Most people breathe in small amounts of many fungi every day but never become sick. If you have symptoms that you think may be caused by C. gattii, you should see a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
What are public health agencies doing about C. gattii?
- Surveillance. In Oregon and Washington, healthcare providers and laboratories are required to report C. gattii cases to public health authorities. Disease reporting helps government officials and healthcare providers monitor trends in the number of C. gattii cases.
- International partnerships. Medical, public health, and laboratory professionals in Australia, Europe, Canada, and the U.S. are working together to compare and better understand C. gattii infections in different parts of the world.
- Chen S, Sorrell T, Nimmo G, Speed B, Currie B, Ellis D, et al. Epidemiology and host- and variety-dependent characteristics of infection due to Cryptococcus neoformans in Australia and New Zealand. Australasian Cryptococcal Study Group. Clin Infect Dis. 2000 Aug;31(2):499-508.
- MacDougall L, Fyfe M, Romney M, Starr M, Galanis E. Risk factors for Cryptococcus gattii infection, British Columbia, Canada. Emerg Infect Dis. 2011 Feb;17(2):193-9.
- Duncan CG, Stephen C, Campbell J. Evaluation of risk factors for Cryptococcus gattii infection in dogs and cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2006 Feb 1;228(3):377-82.