Deadly fungi found in Cape Town

Potentially deadly fungi thriving in central Cape Town.

A potentially lethal fungus for people with HIV/AIDS is growing in large quantities in a public park in the centre of Cape Town, according to microbiologists from Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape.

The cryptococcal fungi can cause Cryptococcal Meningitis (CM) which, after tuberculosis, is the leading cause of death in HIV/AIDS patients in sub-Saharan Africa. However the fungi does not pose a risk in people who are not infected by HIV/AIDS.

The fungi grows on decaying wood and can spread meningitis through its microscopic airborne spores. International research suggests that the fungi is found in areas with a combination of pigeons‚ old trees and large numbers of people.

In late 2016 South Africa launched the world’s largest national screening programme to detect cryptococcal meningitis in HIV patients. Around 250,000 patients who are considered at high risk, but not presenting symptoms, will be screened annually as part of the programme.