C. gattii is a fungus. It can infect the lungs and nervous systems of humans and animals. Until 1999, it was found only in tropical and subtropical regions. The fungus has since spread. It is now considered endemic along the Pacific Coast. Over 170 cases have been confirmed in British Columbia, Canada. Washington has had 52 confirmed cases.
The incubation period is long and variable. It can range from 2 to 14 months. Symptoms cover a wide spectrum and are generally nonspecific. Up to 20% of cases result in fungal meningitis.
Inhaling C. gattii spores can cause infection. It does not spread from person to person.
Test patients with atypical pneumonia or fungal meningitis for C. gattii. Special diagnostic tools are required to tell C. gattii from other Cryptococcus strains.