Valley Fever

Also called: Coccidioidomycosis

Valley Fever is a disease caused by a fungus (or mold) called Coccidioides. The fungi live in the soil of dry areas like the southwestern U.S. You get it from inhaling the spores of the fungus. The infection cannot spread from person to person.

Anyone can get Valley Fever. But it's most common among older adults, especially those 60 and older. People who have recently moved to an area where it occurs are at highest risk for infection. Other people at higher risk include

  • Workers in jobs that expose them to soil dust. These include construction workers, agricultural workers, and military forces doing field training.
  • African Americans and Asians
  • Women in their third trimester of pregnancy
  • People with weak immune systems

Valley Fever is often mild, with no symptoms. If you have symptoms, they may include a flu-like illness, with fever, cough, headache, rash, and muscle aches. Most people get better within several weeks or months. A small number of people may develop a chronic lung or widespread infection.

Valley Fever is diagnosed by testing your blood, other body fluids, or tissues. Many people with the acute infection get better without treatment. In some cases, doctors may prescribe antifungal drugs for acute infections. Severe infections require antifungal drugs.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Symptoms of Valley Fever

The following features are indicative of Valley Fever:
  • fever
  • cough
  • chest pain
  • chills
  • night sweats
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • joint aches
  • rash
  • blisters
  • low grade fever
  • weight loss
  • blood-tinged sputum
  • chest pain
  • nodules in the lungs
  • nodules
  • ulcers
  • skin lesions
  • swollen joints
  • meningitis
It is possible that Valley Fever shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Valley Fever

The following are the most common causes of Valley Fever:
  • coccidioides immitis fungi
  • coccidioides posadasii fungi

Risk Factors for Valley Fever

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Valley Fever:
  • environmental exposure to spores causing valley fever
  • native Americans
  • pregnancy
  • weakened immune system
  • older age

Prevention of Valley Fever

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Valley Fever. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • wear a mask during dust storms
  • stay inside during dust storms
  • wet the soil before digging
  • keep doors and windows tightly closed

Occurrence of Valley Fever

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Valley Fever cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Rare between 10K - 50K cases

Common Age Group

Valley Fever can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Valley Fever can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Valley Fever

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Valley Fever:
  • Sputum smear or culture test: To test the presence of coccidioides organisms
  • Blood tests: To check for antibodies against the fungus that causes valley fever

Doctor for Diagnosis of Valley Fever

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Valley Fever:
  • Infectious disease specialist

Complications of Valley Fever if untreated

Yes, Valley Fever causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Valley Fever is left untreated:
  • severe pneumonia
  • ruptured lung nodules
  • skin ulcers
  • abscesses to bone lesions
  • severe joint pain
  • heart inflammation
  • urinary tract problems
  • meningitis

Self-care for Valley Fever

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Valley Fever:
  • Wear mask: To reduce the signs of infection
  • Stay inside during dust storms: To reduce the signs of infection
  • Wet the soil before digging: To reduce the signs of infection
  • Keep doors and windows tightly closed: To reduce the signs of infection

Time for Treatment of Valley Fever

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Valley Fever to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 3 - 6 months

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Valley Fever.

Related Topics

Fungal Infections

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