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Long-term surveillance and treatment of subclinical cryptococcosis and nasal colonization by Cryptococcus neoformans and C. gattii species complex in captive koalas (Phascolarctes cinereus)

NOBUHIDE KIDO*†, KOICHI MAKIMURA‡, CHIHIRO KAMEGAYA*, IZUMI SHINDO*, ERI SHIBATA*, TOMOKO OMIYA* & YASUHIKO YAMAMOTO*

*Nogeyama Zoological Gardens, Kanazawa-ku,Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan, Nogeyama Zoological Gardens, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan, and
Teikyo University Institute of Medical Mycology and Genome Research Center, Teikyo University, Hachioji,Tokyo, Japan

ABSTRACT
Cryptococcosis is an important systemic mycosis caused by members of the
Cryptococcus neoformans species complex. This disease is potentially fatal in various animals, including koalas. We describe the long-term surveillance and treatment of subclinical cryptococcosis and nasal colonization of koalas by Cryptococcus neoformans and C. gattii. Of the 15 animals investigated through the use of samples obtained by nasal swabs, antigen titer measurements, and pathologic examination, C. neoformans was found associated with nine koalas and C. gattii with one animal. Nine koalas showed subclinical disease and one clinical infections and antigenemia. Treatment with fluconazole, itraconazole and amphotericin B upon detection of C. neoformans or C. gattii was not effective. The results of the present study showed that C. neoformans was the predominant species isolated from the nasal swab samples and the fungus might have naturally become associated with the koalas’ nasal cavities at Kanazawa Zoological Gardens. The unclear treatment effectiveness might have been caused by a shorter treatment period that is routinely used and unstable itraconazole absorption. This investigation also underscores the need for identifying effective treatment regimens for subclinical cryptococcosis and effcient measures for eradicating C. neoformans and C. gattii in koalas.

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  • 2013
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