There is a deadly strain of an , known as , that has infected about 20 people in the . Most commonly, the symptoms include a bad and . Other symptoms include headache, skin rash and quickly progressing fatigue. These are common symptoms that can be caused by viruses and bacteria, which are much more likely causes. Pets can also be affected. Bumps under the skin and a are the main symptoms in animals. I have had a lot of patients ask me about this disease, so I thought I would discuss it here in the blog.

First, I think it is important to realize that infection with Cryptococcus gattii is EXTREMELY RARE. It is NOT from person to person. The spores must be inhaled directly. I talked with an immunologist at The University of Washington about this and he was very unconcerned about it ever becoming a big issue. In researching this disease, I have seen a lot of comments about the intermediate host, Douglas fir , needing to be all cut down to prevent the spread. I find this to be completely ridiculous.

There is a lot of mystery surrounding where the Cryptococcus gattii fungus is coming from as it was previously only found it the tropics. Below I will share 2 links to articles with more information about possible causes. One theory that makes a lot of sense to me is that this fungus is related to climate changes and poor logging practices. There are many monoculture stands of replanted Douglas fir trees in areas where old growth forests (mixed stand of a variety of trees and shrubs) were logged. This fungus could be spreading because there are so many unhealthy tree plantations in the Pacific northwest. If this is the case, obviously more logging is not the answer.

I write this post to educate and inform, not to spread fear. Most likely, this disease will not affect you. If you do develop any of the above symptoms, especially if you live in the Pacific Northwest, ask your doctor if she or he is aware of this fungus outbreak and if you need further testing. For , just keep yourself in overall excellent health as much as possible. Get enough sleep. Eat lots of vegetables, fruit and fiber. Avoid sugar and exercise for an hour 5 days a week. Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine. See a naturopathic doctor to fine tune your health plan.

There is no need to avoid going out into ! If you a a forest worker, it makes sense to clean your equipment, take a shower and put on clean clothes after work. Ultimately, we just have to wait and see how much of a problem Cryptococcus gattii becomes. In the meantime, I encourage focusing on living and enjoying a healthy lifestyle.

    Links for more information about Cryptococcus gattii:


TRUTHOUT LINK (Note: This is a pretty far out story, but I have found Truthout to provide consistently well-researched news articles. Therefore, I am opting to share this information with my readers.)

Yours in health,

Dr. Margaret Philhower
Naturopathic Physician