Cryptococcosis is a potentially fatal fungal disease caused by the basidiomycetes yeasts Cryptococcus neoformans and C. gattii with high predilection to invade the central nervous system mainly in immunocompromised hosts. Skin can be secondarily involved in disseminated infection or be exceptionally involved as primary cutaneous infection by inoculation with contaminated materials. We report the first two Libyan cases of cryptococcal meningitis in HIV patients, in which one of them presented a secondary cutaneous involvement due to systemic dissemination. The first patient was a 17-year-old female, had fever, cough, headache and intractable vomiting as well as itchy water bumps on her skin and upper limbs. The cutaneous eruption prompted the accurate diagnosis. Cultures were positive for C. neoformans in both cerebrospinal fluid and skin specimens, as well as cryptococcal antigen was detected in serum. The isolate was identified, by molecular analysis, as C. neoformans AD-hybrid belonging to molecular type VNIII and mating type αAAα, the same genotype found for some environmental isolates recovered from olive trees in Tripoli. The second patient was a 36-years-old male with a long history of HIV on irregular treatment. Cryptococcal antigen in serum was positive and cultures yielded the growth of C. neoformans var. grubii, molecular type VNI and mating type αA. Both patients did not respond adequately to treatment and died of impaired central nervous system function and respiratory failure, respectively.
Keywords: Cryptococcus neoformans; HIV; Libya; Meningitis; Skin involvement.
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