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Is Crypotoccocis in dogs contagious to people?

By: Dr. Jon Rappaport

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Our question this week was:

Our 2-year-old Dalmatian has just been diagnosed with Cryptococcosis after we noticed she was having continual trouble with nasal congestion and breathing difficulty. We cannot find any information on whether the infection can be transmitted to other dogs or infants through contact - are you able to assist? It sounds from our vet that the disease is very rare and there doesn't appear to be much information on responses to treatment with the infection.

Answer

Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote that your dog has been diagnosed with nasal Cryptococcosis. Cryptococcosis is a systemic fungal disease caused by Cryptococcus neorfomans.

Cyptococcus is a saprophytic fungus is found most often associated with pigeon droppings. It does not cause disease in pigeons due to the high body temperature of the bird (42C), which inhibit the growth of Cryptoccoccus. Optimal growth occurs at 37C, which is the average temperature of mammals.

It affects dogs and Doberman Pinschers and Great Danes appear to be at increased risk in Australia, while Cocker Spaniels are at higher risk in North America. Young dogs (less than 4 years of age) are predisposed.

Cryptococcus has the property of producing a thick capsule, which gives virulence and resistance to the organism. Infection occurs by inhalation of the organism. After inhalation Cryptococcus produces a thick capsule with interferes with antigen presentation, immune response and elimination of the organism.

Animals that are compromised immunologically, such as by corticosteroid therapy or malnutrition are most susceptible.

Spreading of infection depends on the host' immunity however not all affected animals have concurrent immunosuppressive disease to justify the development of cryptococcosis.

It is not considered "contagious" to people unless the people are immunosuppressed for another reason.

An article that might be helpful to you is Cryptococcosis in Dogs.

Best of luck!

Dr. Jon



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