Introduction: In Cúcuta, Cryptococcus gattii serotype B is commonly recovered from immunocompetent patients with cryptococcosis, but it has not been recovered from the environment in spite of its high incidence which is 77% out of reported cases.
Objective: The aim of this work was to carry out an extensive environmental sampling in Cúcuta, in an attempt to isolate C. gattii serotype B and to expand our knowledge about the ecology and epidemiology of this important yeast.
Materials and methods: Samples associated with 3,634 trees from 40 zones of Cúcuta were collected and processed with 28 samples collected near the houses of four patients with cryptococcosis caused by C. gattii serotype B. The serotype of the recovered isolates was done using multiplex PCR, molecular patterns were determined by RFLP of the URA5 gene and mating type was determined using the primers MfÎ±U, MfÎ±L, MFa2U and MFa2L.
Results: In total, 4,389 samples were processed and one isolate of C. gattii serotype B (VGI/a), two isolates of C. gattii serotype C (VGIII/Î±) and three isolates of C. neoformans var. grubii, serotype A (VNI/Î±), were recovered. The density of the recovered isolates varied from 50 to 350 cfu/g of soil.
Conclusions: This is the first report on the environmental isolation of C. gattii serotype B from Cúcuta. However, because of the low rate of recovery of isolates from soil only, the environmental niche of C. gattii has not been established and further environmental studies in Cúcuta are necessary, owing that this serotype is not only causing cryptococcosis but also has shown a higher virulence after the Vancouver outbreak.