Spread of Cryptococcus gattii into Pacific Northwest region of the United States

Emerg Infect Dis. 2009 Aug;15(8):1185-91. doi: 10.3201/eid1508.081384.


Cryptococcus gattii has emerged as a human and animal pathogen in the Pacific Northwest. First recognized on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, it now involves mainland British Columbia, and Washington and Oregon in the United States. In Canada, the incidence of disease has been one of the highest worldwide. In the United States, lack of cryptococcal species identification and case surveillance limit our knowledge of C. gattii epidemiology. Infections in the Pacific Northwest are caused by multiple genotypes, but the major strain is genetically novel and may have emerged recently in association with unique mating or environmental changes. C. gattii disease affects immunocompromised and immunocompetent persons, causing substantial illness and death. Successful management requires an aggressive medical and surgical approach and consideration of potentially variable antifungal drug susceptibilities. We summarize the study results of a group of investigators and review current knowledge with the goal of increasing awareness and highlighting areas where further knowledge is required.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / epidemiology*
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / veterinary
  • Cryptococcosis / epidemiology*
  • Cryptococcosis / veterinary
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / classification
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / isolation & purification
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / pathogenicity
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Humans
  • Northwestern United States / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Public Health