Be attentive of Cryptococcal infections!


Cryptococcal infection in your kitty is harmful for both you and your pet. Here’s more on this fungal infection.

What is a Cryptococcosis?
It is the most common fungal infection in cats caused by yeasts, known as Cryptococcus neoformans or Cryptococcus gattii. The yeasts were first detected in peach juice in Italy (1894). In cats they were confirmed as a disease producing agent in 1952. The yeasts are a fungal form which looks like a bigger bacterium under the microscope.
Signs to look out for…
When the cat suffers from nasal or skin lesion (granuloma) for a prolonged period which is unresponsive to the treatment with topical antiseptics then you may suspect about the Cryptococcal infection. It is accompanied with fever, sneezing, head shaking, and in advanced cases blindness also. The fungi may invade the facial bone to cause distortion of nasal cavity. Sometimes the Central Nervous System involvement with meningitis is observed.  Siamese cats are more susceptible than other breeds.
Cats get the infection through…
The small spores of the fungi can cause infection in cats. The spores enter the body either through inhalation or through the wound contamination. The fungi along with the spores commonly inhabit in the soil, pigeon droppings, dusts and plants specially Eucalyptus.

Pet parents should be cautious too…
As the fungus is highly zoonotic, it can produce severe infection in immunosuppressed pet parents. It can cause meningitis if the pet parent is suffering from cancer, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) or he is using steroid medicine for a long time.

For confirmation of Cryptococcosis, consultation with your vet along with laboratory examination of the clinical samples such as nasal swabs, tissue specimens collected by fine needle aspiration, blood, etc are required according to his advice. Surgical intervention is required in advanced cases. Currently, extracts of some medicinal plants (Blepharispermum subsessile, Anacardium occidentale) are also used for treatment.

Dr. Indranil Samanta

Preventing infection…
To avoid the infection, following measures may be adopted:

  • Do not keep the pigeons and cats in the same premises.
  • Avoid the contact of the cats with Eucalyptus trees.
  • The house should be dust free as much as possible.
  • Cancer or AIDS patients should avoidthe cat contact.

Did you know?
We all remember the kind and generous fairy godmother who provided Cinderella with the tools to go after a new life. But most of us would not know that in the original Italian version of Cinderella, the benevolent fairy godmother was a beloved cat.
(Dr Indranil Samanta (MVSc, PhD) works as Assistant Professor in Veterinary Microbiology at West Bengal University of Animal & Fishery Sciences, Kolkata. He is actively engaged in microbiological disease investigation and allied research. He is the author of the book ‘Veterinary Bacteriology’ (NIPA, New Delhi) and he has several international publications in his credit for which he was felicitated with Associate Fellow by National Academy of Agricultural Sciences.)