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The Causes And Symptoms Of Valley Fever

Updated on March 10, 2015

Dust Storm


What is Valley Fever?

coccidiodomycosis. would be the medical term for Valley Fever

Valley Fever is a lung infection, that is caused by a fungus. The fungus is found in dust that has become airborne when dust from agricultural areas or construction sites and has been moved around by the wind and dust storms. As spores are inhaled it can result in Valley fever.

It is very difficult if not impossible to avoid exposure to the fungus that causes valley fever. It is important to know that if you have symptoms of valley fever, have visited or live in an area that has the fungus that causes valley fever, you should mention it to your doctor and have him/her test you for valley fever. There is no vaccine to prevent the infection. If you have valley fever you may need treatment.

Other common names for valley fever are: Cocci, California Fever, Desert Rheumatism, and San Joaquin Valley Fever.



Symptoms Of Valley Fever

Acute coccidioidomycosis
With an acute, form of Valley Fever it is often mild, with few, if any, symptoms. However, when signs and symptoms do occur, they appear one to three weeks after exposure. The symptoms tend to be flu like and can be from minor to severe.

Some of the symptoms may include the ones mentioned below

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Chest pain — varying from a mild feeling of constriction to intense pressure resembling a heart attack
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Joint aches
  • Red, spotty rash......the rash may consist of painful red bumps, most often on the lower legs and at times the chest, arms and back, Although the rash starts out red it may later turn brown. Some people may have a raised red rash that looks like pimples with blisters.

    The rash that sometimes accompanies valley fever is made up of painful red bumps that may later turn brown. The rash mainly appears on your lower legs, but sometimes on your chest, arms and back. Others may have a raised red rash with blisters or eruptions that look like pimples.


Location And Progression

Valley Fever appears most frequently in southern California, however, it does appear to occur throughout the south-western part of the United States. Areas such as Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Northern Mexico.

At least eighty percent of the population in some areas of California have been affected at one time or another. Although most people who are affected have such mild infections that they never know that they have or have had it.

That being said: when it is severe enough to be recognized the disease is characterized with flu like symptoms (as mentioned above).

There is a less frequent form of Valley fever that is progressive of the infection and can be serious. This form can appear months or even years after an apparent recovery from the initial infection. The lungs as well as other organs may be invaded as the disease progresses. It is with great sadness that I have a brother with a very severe case of Valley Fever. I also have a brother and a niece with the mild form and is at least dormant for the time being.

Diagnosing Valley Fever




To confirm a diagnosis of valley fever, the doctor may order a series of test which will include the following:

Chest X-ray...this may show thin-walled cavities in the lungs

Blood tests...showing antibodies produced by the body to fight the fungus

Examination of Sputum...including lung fluid, spinal fluid, and fluid that has drained from a skin lesion..these fluids are examined under a microscope to find any evidence of the fungus.

Cultures...taken from tissue samples and infected body fluids.

Read More About Valley Fever

Treatment For Valley Fever

In most cases, (over 60%) in a mild form, no treatment is required.

Antifungal drugs are available and used to treat Valley Fever when and if needed.

The drug most often used is amphotericin B.

Oral azoles (fluconazole Diflucan, itreconazole Sporanox, ketoconazole and triazole (posaconazole) are also used.

Voriconazole is a new drug that may be used.

These drugs do have side effects. Amphotericin B is the only one proven safe in pregnancy patients.

.In some patients high relapse rates can occur about 75% relapse with brain involvement, and thus requiring a lifelong antifungal therapy.

Dosage, length of time of drug administration and the choice of which drug to use is decided at time of consultation with an infectious disease specialist.

Valley Fever - Coccidioides immitis


Coccidioidomycosis, also known as Valley Fever, is a fungal disease caused by the Coccidioides species. This fungal species live in the soil of semiarid regions. It is endemic in areas such as the southwestern United States, parts of Mexico and South America. It is a reportable disease in states where the disease is endemic, such as California, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. Of people who live in an endemic region, about 10-50% will have evidence of exposure to Coccidioides.

Valley Fever Raises Concerns in California, Arizona

In California's Central Valley

A longstanding health problem in California's Central Valley has worsened in recent years, leading health officials to order the relocation of 3,000 prisoners from two state prisons. But the disease affects much of the population in some rural communities and, Mike O'Sullivan reports, while it often goes unnoticed, it sometimes can be devastating for patients.

Newsmakers 520 - Valley Fever The New Mexico Department of Health presents a documentary on Valley Fever.


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