What causes Valley Fever?

Valley Fever is caused by species of the fungal genus Coccidioides

Cocci_lungs
Coccidioides filamentous growth in human lungs, image form swjpcc.com

How do people get sick from Valley Fever?

Coccidioides or Valley Fever infections result from inhaling fungal spores from desert soils. Once in human lung tissue, spores can travel throughout the body including to the central nervous system.

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Coccidioides life cycle; spores (arthroconidia) are inhaled from desert soils and transition to different spore types in the human body.

Where is Valley Fever found?

In the United States, Valley Fever is found in desert regions including Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. Recently, reports were made of Valley Fever infections in Washington state. In 2016 in California the highest rates of infection were in Kern, Fresno, Kings, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles counties. 

CDC-Cocci-EndemicAreasMap

 

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 Is Valley Fever contagious?

No, Valley Fever cannot be spread person to person.

What are the symptoms of Valley Fever?

Elongated cold and flu like symptoms; fever, fatigue, muscle aches/joint pain, headache, cough. Some Valley Fever patients experience no symptoms, while others develop pneumonia or meningitis.  

Can you die of Valley Fever?

Yes. Many people clear Valley Fever infections over time while others become life threateningly sick. Our research is aimed at understanding what makes some Valley Fever isolates more virulent than others.

What is the infection rate of Valley Fever?

There were ~5,000 infections reported in California in 2016, and rates of infections are steadily increasing including infections in areas where Valley fever is endemic and reportable (Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah).

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Rates of coccidioidomycoses from 1998-2016, graph from CDC.gov

Where can I learn more about Valley Fever?

You can use the links embedded here to access research papers, governmental, and news websites. You can also learn more about Valley Fever on the CDC website,  Mayo Clinic website, and at the Valley Fever Americas Foundation website. 

 

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