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Cryptococcosis (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care for Cryptococcosis

When symptoms occur (listed above) and have no clear source (for example, cold, viral syndrome, bacterial infection), a medical caregiver should be consulted, especially if the individual lives in or has visited areas where animals and humans have been diagnosed with cryptococcosis. People who are immunocompromised (for example, those with HIV, cancer patients, chemotherapy patients) are at higher risk for complications (meningitis, coma, death) from cryptococcosis so they should seek care immediately if symptoms develop.

Cryptococcosis Diagnosis

The medical caregiver should be informed of the possible exposure to Cryptococcus if the individual knows they have been in risk areas like logging sites, tropical regions, or the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver Island, Washington, or Oregon) or know their domestic pets or people who live in or visited the same regions as the patient have been diagnosed with cryptococcosis. This medical history will help the medical caregiver order additional tests as the initial physical exam often yields few if any diagnostic features.

Even if the patient has some visible findings such as skin lesions, or even pulmonary or bone lesions seen on X-rays, many other diseases (for example, histoplasmosis, toxoplasmosis, tuberculosis) may also have these findings. A CT scan or MRI of the brain may show focal areas of possible infection in the brain, but again many diseases may show similar findings.

However, serological testing of spinal fluid obtained by spinal puncture and blood may provide presumptive evidence of cryptococcosis if the person has symptoms of cryptococcosis.

Definitive diagnosis of cryptococcosis depends on isolating the fungus from an infected patient's tissue or bodily fluids or identifying the organisms in tissue biopsy samples. Further immunological testing such as PCR test for genetic material of the fungus can identify if the infection is caused by either C. neoformans or C. gattii.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/4/2016

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