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Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Infectious Diseases
Volume 2009, Article ID 840452, 13 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2009/840452
Review Article

Cryptococcus gattii: An Emerging Cause of Fungal Disease in North America

1Centre for the Study of Host Resistance, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3G 1A4
2Department of Microbiology and Immunology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 2B4
3Department of Human Genetics, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1B1
4Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3G 1A4

Received 11 November 2008; Accepted 18 January 2009

Academic Editor: Bettina Fries

Copyright © 2009 Ashwin Dixit et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

During the latter half of the twentieth century, fungal pathogens such as Cryptococcus neoformans were increasingly recognized as a significant threat to the health of immune compromised populations throughout the world. Until recently, the closely related species C. gattii was considered to be a low-level endemic pathogen that was confined to tropical regions such as Australia. Since 1999, C. gattii has emerged in the Pacific Northwest region of North America and has been responsible for a large disease epidemic among generally healthy individuals. The changing epidemiology of C. gattii infection is likely to be a consequence of alterations in fungal ecology and biology and illustrates its potential to cause serious human disease. This review summarizes selected biological and clinical aspects of C. gattii that are particularly relevant to the recent North American outbreak and compares these to the Australian and South American experience.