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Large populations of potentially deadly fungi are thriving in central Cape Town. But the microbiologist who discovered them says the cryptococcal fungi — which cause cryptococcal meningitis — do not pose a risk in people whose immune systems have not been compromised by HIV/AIDS. After tuberculosis‚ cryptococcal meningitis is the leading cause of death in HIV/AIDS patients in Sub-Saharan Africa. People become infected when they inhale the airborne microscopic spores produced by pathogenic cryptococci, which grows on decaying wood. Last year‚ SA launched the world’s largest national screening programme to detect cryptococcal meningitis in HIV patients‚ and Stellenbosch University PhD student Jo-Marie Vreulink told TimesLIVE on Thursday that it offered "excellent" protection from the disease. Vreulink’s supervisor‚ Prof Alf Botha‚ had been searching for cryptococcal fungi in SA since 2003 when his student found numerous colonies in samples collected from a public park in the centre of...

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