Key Information About Coccidioidomycosis
Coccidioidomycosis is also called valley fever and San Joaquin Fever. It is a serious fungal disease of the lungs and other tissues.
On an average, there were approximately 200 coccidioidomycosis-associated deaths each year in the USA during 1999–2016, according to National Multiple Cause of Death data.
Warming ocean waters have led to an increase in dust storm activity and coccidioidomycosis infections.
Coccidioidomycosis was first discovered by a medical student in 1892 in Argentina, according to Clinical Infectious Diseases. Clinical investigations conducted in the San Joaquin Valley during the 1930s is where the disease gets its name from.
Coccidioidomycosis is caused by a fungus, Coccidioides, which lives in the soil of relatively arid regions.
The infection is acquired by inhalation of the fungus into the lungs, where it multiplies and causes the disease.
It can take between one week and three weeks for symptoms to appear after a person is infected.
Symptoms of primary coccidioidomycosis, in decreasing order of frequency, include fever, cough, chest pain, chills, sputum production, sore throat, and hemoptysis.
Even though around 60 percent of people who are exposed will never experience symptoms, for those who do, the effects can be life threatening.
Approximately 40 percent of persons develop influenza-like symptoms 1–3 weeks after exposure. Approximately 5‒10 percent of persons develop serious pulmonary problems.
Improved coccidioidomycosis awareness in non-highly endemic areas is needed— Infectious Disease Advisor
When people who get sick with coccidioidomycosis, they generally get better on their own within weeks to months, but some people will need antifungal medicines.
Amphotericin B is usually used to treat patients with respiratory failure due to Coccidioides immitis or rapidly progressive coccidioidal infections.
Fluconazole, itraconazole, or ketoconazole may be prescribed in cases of chronic manifestations of coccidioidomycosis.
People who have had coccidioidomycosis are usually protected from getting it again.
If individuals develop flu-like symptoms, such as a cough, fever, or difficulty breathing, lasting two weeks or more, they should ask their healthcare provider about Valley Fever.— Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer
There are no vaccines or medicines currently available to prevent coccidioidomycosis.
However, you can reduce the risk of this disease if you avoid breathing in outdoor dust in affected locations. If you are traveling to places known to have coccidioidomycosis, you need to:
- avoid some outdoor areas like construction sites and places like farms, where dirt is being dug up
- stay inside after dust storms and close your windows
- use air filters
- avoid doing gardening, yard work or any activity that would expose you to dirt or dust
- clean cuts and scrapes with soap and water.
With the continued increase in Valley Fever, people living and working in the Central Valley and central coasts regions should take steps to avoid breathing in dusty air.— Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer
Did you know about coccidioidomycosis before reading this article?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Srikanth R