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While found around the world in tropical and subtropical areas, this yeast emerged as a human and animal pathogen in 2000 in the Pacific Northwest after being recognized on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Unlike Cryptococcus neoformans, which mostly causes illness in immunocompromised individuals, C. gattii can cause disease in healthy, immunocompetent persons and in immunocompromised persons (HIV-infected, organ transplant, hematologic malignancy).