Cryptococcus gattii

(Rare Disease of Public Health Signifigance)

Cause: Fungus Cryptococcus. Notifiable condition surveillance is only for C. gattii.

Illness and treatment: Symptoms include severe cough with shortness of breath, chills, night sweats, and loss of appetite. Typical presentations are meningitis and pneumonia. Infection of the kidneys, prostate, and bone may also occur. Treatment is with antifungals.

Sources: C. gattii is an environmental fungus that has been isolated from native trees, soil, and air in the Pacific Northwest. Exposure is through inhalation of the organism.

Prevention: There are no specific precautions.

Recent Washington trends: Since 2004, 60 animals, including porpoises, cats, dogs, and birds, have tested positive in Washington. Since 2006, 1–9 human cases are reported each year, some with presumed in-state exposure.

Purpose of Reporting and Surveillance

  • To detect the emergence of Cryptococcus gattii in Washington
  • To improve the number of suspected cases that are laboratory confirmed
  • To monitor trends in the epidemiology of cryptococcal disease due to C. gattii

Legal Reporting Requirements

Human or animal infections with C. gattii are reportable in Washington State as rare diseases of public health significance.

  • Health care providers: C. gattii infections notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 24 hours
  • Health care facilities: C. gattii infections notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 24 hours
  • Laboratories: Cryptococcus non neoformans notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 24 hours; specimen submission required – cultures (2 business days); other specimens upon request
  • Veterinarians: Suspected human cases notifiable within 24 hours to the local health jurisdiction; animal cases notifiable to Washington State Department of Agriculture (see:
  • Local health jurisdictions: notifiable to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Communicable Disease Epidemiology (CDE) within 7 days of case investigation completion or summary information required within 21 days