• Cryptococcus gattii is a yeast with spores that can infect humans and other animals
and lead to respiratory illness and death.
• Previously found only in tropical and subtropical areas, C. gattii is now found in
certain temperate regions of British Columbia, possibly because climate change
has led to warmer and drier conditions and allowed the organism to survive.
• Climate projections and ecological niche models suggest that C. gattii could
eventually colonize the heavily populated areas of BC's Lower Mainland.
• Between August 2001 and June 2006, there was less media coverage of C. gattii than
there was for West Nile virus, despite the fact that during this period no cases of
illness or deaths were attributed to West Nile virus and 157 cases of illness and
5 deaths were attributed to C. gattii.
• The lack of media coverage for C. gattii indicates that more effective risk communication
is needed to inform health professionals and the public as soon as possible after a
risk is identified.