If inhaled, these yeasts can cause infection of the brain and other organs. It is a zoonotic disease.


Different varieties of yeast, most commonly Cryptococcus neoformans.


The disease has a worldwide distribution but is extremely rare in Queensland. Infection can occur in most species, either as a generalised disease or meningoencephalitis. It can cause bovine mastitis.

The yeasts are commonly found in the excretions of pigeons and starlings that accumulate in old buildings, church towers, and in soil. The yeasts grow using the nutrients within the faeces. People usually become infected by inhaling the contaminated dust.

Many people are exposed to the yeasts without developing the disease. Anyone who frequents contaminated areas is at risk.

In Australia, the disease tends to affect adult males more commonly. However, in the Northern Territory, Aboriginal people are more prone to the disease.

Affected animals

  • humans
  • cats
  • dogs
  • horses
  • cattle
  • sheep
  • ferrets
  • koalas

Risk period

People with a disability or who are compromised by other diseases are particularly susceptible to Cryptococcosis. The disease is a common infection of people affected by HIV-AIDS.



Avoid contact with birds' dry faeces. Remove faeces after first dampening with water to reduce the risk of inhalation.

Do not expose immuno-compromised people to sources of the yeast, including potentially infected animals and humans.


Antifungal agents are required to treat the disease. The course of treatment is long and toxicity problems may occur in response to some drugs.