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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cryptococcus gattii Meningitis in a Previously Healthy Young Woman: A Case Report


Introduction: Cryptococcus gattii (C. gatti) is a rare cause of meningitis in the United States. Outbreaks in new geographic distributions in the past few decades raise concern that climate change may be contributing to a broader distribution of this pathogen. We review a case of C. gattii in a 23-year-old woman in Northern California who was diagnosed via lumbar puncture after six weeks of headache, blurred vision, and tinnitus.

Case Report: A 23-year-old previously healthy young woman presented to the emergency department (ED) after multiple visits to primary care, other EDs, and neurologists, for several weeks of headache, nausea, tinnitus, and blurred vision. On examination the patient was found to have a cranial nerve VI palsy (impaired abduction of the left eye) and bilateral papilledema on exam. Lumbar puncture had a significantly elevated opening pressure. Cerebrospinal fluid studies were positive for C. gattii. The patient was treated with serial lumbar punctures, followed by lumbar drain, as well as amphotericin and flucytosine. The patient had improvement in headache and neurologic symptoms and was discharged to another facility that specializes in management of this disease to undergo further treatment with immunomodulators and steroids.

Conclusion: Fungal meningitis is uncommon in the US, particularly among immunocompetent patients. Due to climate change, C. gattii may be a new pathogen to consider. This finding raises important questions to the medical community about the way global climate change affects day to day medical care now, and how it may change in the future.

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