Mycopathologia et mycologia applicata

, Volume 35, Issue 3–4, pp 329–345 | Cite as

Relation of the pigeon to cryptococcosis: Natural carrier state, heat resistance and survival of Cryptococcus neoformans

  • Maxwell L. Littman
  • Rele Borok


The feral pigeon in New York City was found to serve as a mechanical carrier of pathogenic strains ofCryptococcus neoformans. Of 94 feral pigeons freshly trapped in the city, 7 were found to carryC. neoformans on their beaks and feet, while their rectal swabs were negative. Following crop instillation ofC. neoformans in 3 feral pigeons, the fungus survived passage through the gastrointestinal tract and appeared in the fresh feces within one hour after inoculation and was still present 24 hours later. The internal body (rectal) temperatures of 57 feral pigeons recorded soon after capture in two seasons of the year, ranged from 41.5° C to 43.3° C and averaged 42.5° ± 0.39° C. The birds were able to maintain their high temperatures in the face of sustained cold, indicating the presence of a strong thermoregulating mechanism. A study of the growth and survival of 60 human strains ofC. neoformans on Sabouraud dextrose yeast extract agar slants revealed that 100 % of the cultures were able to grow at 39° C, 92 % at 40° C, 30 % at 41° C, 17 % at 42° C and 8 % at 43° C. Despite exposure to these temperatures for 7 days, 100 % of the human strains survived at 40° C, 97 % at 41° C, 95 % at 42° C, 91 % at 43° C, 88 % at 44° C, 47 % at 45° C and none at 47° C. Seventy strains ofC. neoformans of pigeon excreta origin showed a similar pattern of heat resistance, except that 11 % of these strains survived 47° C. The inability ofC. neoformans to grow at 44° C, a property shared by all 130 strains, provides a new species characteristic.C. neoformans was found to multiply rapidly in moist pigeon excreta extract, reaching counts up to 60 million per ml within 3 weeks, and to be still viable in moist as well as dessicated pigeon excreta extract after more than two years of storage at room temperature.


Dextrose Heat Resistance Carrier State Extract Agar Pathogenic Strain 
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Copyright information

© Dr. W. Junk N.V. 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maxwell L. Littman
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rele Borok
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.From the Mycotic Disease Research Laboratory, Department of MedicineVeterans Administration HospitalBrooklyn
  2. 2.Department of MedicineNew York University School of MedicineNew York

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