What You Should Know About Cryptococcus Gattii

Introduction

Cryptococcus Gatti is a rare type of fungal infection that affects a handful of people across the world every year. The disease cannot be transmitted from humans to humans, or from animals to humans, but any contact with the fungus will put you at an automatic risk of contracting the condition – and even though it’s considered a rare condition, it’s also considered a very dangerous one at the same time.

If you show any symptoms of cryptococcus gattii, make an appointment with your doctor so that the proper tests can be conducted as soon as possible in order to establish the cause of your condition. In cases where it’s diagnosed as a C. Gatti infection, it’s usually easy to treat with the addition of simple antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. With antibiotics, the condition can dissipate in a matter of weeks – whereas without the antibiotics, the condition can progress to severe dangerous levels, and can even be fatal as has been seen in an increasing amount of cases.

The disease is known to strike particularly the lungs and nervous system, and any kind of persistent cough can be a warning sign that you’ve contracted the condition – especially together with other symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting or headaches, which can easily turn into meningitis, and just as easily turn fatal from there.

What is Cryptococcus Gattii?

Cryptococcus gattii is a type of fungal infection which is spread through direct contact between the fungus; while it’s mostly seen in humans, the condition can also be contracted by animals – but there’s no risk of cross-infections between humans and humans, or between humans and animals.

The condition is considered rare, but in spite of this there have been increased isolated pockets of the condition in certain parts of the world, usually tropical ones in which the fungus is known to thrive. According to the UBC Centre for Health and Environment Research, certain parts of the world are at an automatically increased risk of contracting the condition, including Canada and certain parts of the United States, where cases of infection have been seen in Washington DC and Oregon.

If you’ve travelled to any areas where conditions have been recently diagnosed and you start to show any of the symptoms that are described in this article (or just start to feel a little “less than well”, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor for the proper tests!).

How Is it Spread?

A C. Gatti infection can’t be transmitted between humans and animals, or between animals and animals. Usually, the primary source of infection will come directly from exposure to the fungus, where the spores (which are far too small to see with the naked eye) are breathed in – and usually by accident.

Because of this, you might not realize that you have been exposed to the condition at all until you’ve started to show the first symptoms, and you might even mistake it for flu until you’ve learned more about the symptoms that can define a C. Gatti infection.

Risk Factors for Infection

If you suffer from any existing lung conditions, then a C. Gatti infection (which will primarily affect the lungs first) willl likely affect you in a different way when compared to someone with healthier lungs. This is more true if you’re inactive, overweight or a smoker – and if you have a condition like bronchitis or a lung infection already by the point that you’re exposed to a C. Gatti infection, the infection can and will hit you harder.

A lowered immune system also puts you at an increased risk of developing general infections, and this isn’t just limited to C. Gatti.

Want to reduce your risk? Avoid areas where prevalence of the C. Gatti fungus has been spotted, and take special care when travelling to these areas. When travelling, you should also keep in mind that C. Gatti isn’t the only condition that you might be exposed to in the wild: Always use common sense, and always be careful when dealing with conditions or plants that you aren’t yet familiar with.

C. Gatti in Animals

Cryptococcus infections are present in the animal kingdom just as much as they are in the human world, and although they cannot be transmitted directly from animals to humans, the fact that animals can get these infections too can help to tell us more about the condition. Exactly how does it prove to be useful?

Pockets of infection where animals contract the disease can help to point out areas in which the fungus thrives; doctors and scientists can then use this data to predict where a human-based outbreak of the condition will be likely – and of course, from there, they can advise people to avoid these areas entirely, or attempt to eliminate the source of the fungus.

Contagious – or Not?

No, you don’t have to worry about contracting C. Gatti from someone who has it – as this article has already explained, this is not how the condition is spread. But you can still be exposed to the spores that cause the condition if they’re currently trapped on someone’s clothing, for example.

If there’s one important thing that you should know about fungi, it’s the fact that they have the ability to stick, and the ability to spread from there even with the littlest breeze. If you suspect that you or someone else was exposed to the spores, make sure that you don’t come into direct contact with anything they might have been wearing at the time – and disinfect absolutely everything that could still contain traces of the spores.

Should you start to experience symptoms like a cough and fever after this, the advised step is to see your doctor so that the proper tests can be done. A C. Gatti infection isn’t the kind of condition that you can treat at home, and trying to throw a home treatment at a condition as serious as this could be fatal – instead, opt for antibiotics that can get the condition under control in a matter of a few weeks.

The First Symptoms

A few rare cases of C. Gatti infections will present without any associated symptoms – although this is very rare, and most diagnosed cases of C. Gatti will instead start off with a cough. The cough might be mild at first and then progress from there, or it might be severe from the start.

The characteristic sign of a C. Gatti infection is a very persistent cough that doesn’t go away (or even let up) for weeks or months at a time; it can seem like you’re “just under the weather” when there’s something much more serious going on with your health.

The cough can soon turn to a lung infection, and you’ll notice some other associated symptoms when it does. Usually lung infections go together with coughing up more phlegm (that usually also has a bad taste or smell to it as the infection progresses), and might have other symptoms such as fever according to the UBC Centre for Health and Environment Research.

Once the symptoms of C. Gatti has switched over to a lung infection, it becomes more than one condition to have to treat – and it can be a whole lot more dangerous than just one on its own. This should outline the extreme importance of having to see your doctor in any cases where an infection or illness might be suspected.

Symptoms of Infection

The symptoms of a C. Gatti infection might start off with a persistent cough that goes on for months at a time, but it’s not the only symptom of the condition that you should look out for.

Other symptoms of being infected with C. Gatti will normally include a few other symptoms that are related to your lungs, including the production of phlegm, difficulty breathing, wheezing in the chest, an increased likelihood of asthma attacks together with the cough.

Symptoms progressing even further than this are likely to include a high-grade fever that lasts for a long time (and usually resists conventional treatments after a while), a decreased immune system which can make you more likely to pick up other conditions such as the flu, double vision and an increased likelihood of chronic headaches and light sensitivity.

There are even further symptoms than this, and it might include a skin rash, night sweats, losing vast amounts of weight, loss of appetite and the appearance of spontaneous rashes for which no other cause can be found.

Because of the fact that the symptoms of a C. Gatti infection are so varied, it outlines the importance of seeing your doctor the moment any symptoms are experienced, and the importance of mentioning a thorough list of all the symptoms that you might be going through when you see your doctor.

The more symptoms you’re able to mention to your doctor, the more likely it is that their diagnosis (and any further tests) will be accurate, and it can speed up your recovery rate (especially from C. Gatti) if treatment is started in the most early phases of the condition.

Treating a C. Gatti infection is usually easy once it has been diagnosed, and can be done with the addition of the right antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.