By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

In a new study published this week in the journal, Open Forum Infectious Diseases, researchers from the University of Arizona and others estimated the lifetime cost-of-illness associated with all cases of Valley fever diagnosed in 2019 in Arizona.

In 2019, Arizona saw 10,359 cases of Valley fever accounting for a majority of cases seen in the US.

Image/QuinceMedia via pixabay

Researchers report:

Total lifetime costs of $736 million were estimated for the 10,359 cases of Valley fever diagnosed in Arizona in 2019. Direct costs of $671 million accounted for over 90% of expenditures, with $65 million in indirect costs. Disseminated infection produces the highest economic burden at $1.26 million direct and $137,400 indirect costs per person. The lowest Valley fever lifetime costs were for cases of primary uncomplicated pneumonia with $23,200 in direct costs and $1,300 in lost wages. The average lifetime direct costs across all Valley fever manifestations are $64,800 per person diagnosed in Arizona in 2019 and $6,300 for indirect costs.

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.

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.

Coccidioides immitis arthroconidia

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.

Related: FDA ‘fast-tracks’ Valley fever treatment

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.