By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
Valley Fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis, is caused by the spore of a fungus that grows in soil in parts of California, Arizona, and other areas of the southwestern United States.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9735 cases were reported through July 27, slightly higher than the 9251 cases reported during the same period in 2018.
Ninety-eight percent of all cases have been reported in two states–Arizona and California. Year-to-date, Arizona and California have seen 5543 and 4013 cases, respectively.
In Arizona, the most cases were reported in Maricopa County (3993), while Kern County has seen the most in California (1502).
People get infected with this fungus by breathing in spores present in dust that gets into the air when it is windy or when soil is disturbed, such as through digging during construction.
A person can reduce the risk of infection by avoiding breathing in dirt or dust in areas where Valley Fever is common. In these areas, when it is windy outside and the air is dusty, stay inside and keep windows and doors closed. While driving, keep car windows closed and use recirculating air conditioning, if available. If you must be outdoors when it is windy and dusty, consider wearing a properly fitted mask (such as an N95 respirator mask, which is widely available in retail stores), and refrain from disturbing the soil whenever possible. Employers should train their workers about Valley Fever symptoms and take steps to limit workers’ exposure to dust.
Most infected people will not show signs of illness. Those who do become ill with Valley Fever may have symptoms similar to other illnesses, including influenza or bacterial or viral pneumonia, so Valley Fever is not always recognized. The flu-like symptoms can last for two weeks or more. While most people recover fully, some people are at risk for more severe disease or complications of Valley Fever such as pneumonia, infection of the brain, joints, bone, skin or other organs. People with an increased risk for severe disease include those 60 years or older, pregnant women, and people with diabetes or conditions that weaken their immune system. Additionally, African-Americans and Filipinos are at increased risk for severe disease, but the reason is unknown.
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