Canadian Environmental Health Atlas

Understanding Our Environment is Key to Promoting Health and Preventing Disease

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Key Points

Cryptococcus gattii

• 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.