Cryptococcosis Description Cryptococcus neoformans is a fungus that lives in the environment. Infection from C. Neoformans is called cryptococcosis. This infection attacks the lungs and the central nervous system, specifically the brain and spine. Location The Cryptococcus fungus lives and can be found worldwide, typically found in soil, on old and decaying wood. Cause People can be infected through inhalation of the fungus. Fortunately, most people who are exposed to the fungus do not get sick. Infection is very rare, especially for those who are very healthy. However, those with weakened immune systems caused by illnesses such as HIV/AIDS have an increased risk of getting infected and fighting the infection. Fortunately, this infection is not contagious. Symptoms When C. neoformans infects the lungs, the symptoms are similar to pneumonia and include: coughing, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. If the brain is infected symptoms may include: headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, neck pain, sensitivity to light, and changes in behavior due to confusion. Treatment Treatment can last longer than 6 months and is done through antifungal prescription medications all depending on how severe the conditions are. Treatment for children and pregnant women varies from other cases as well. Prevention Preventing Cryptococcosis can be difficult because it is hard not to breathe in air from the environment. Early detection can also be difficult because symptoms can start weeks after infection. Fortunately, most people never experience symptoms of Cryptococcosis. Handling Animals Although it is rare, pets and other animals can get Cryptococcosis but cannot transmit it to humans. Other Facts Along with inhalation of the fungus, infection can occur through bird droppings and unwashed fruit.