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Valley Fever

Valley Fever Causes

Valley fever is caused by the fungi Coccidioides immitis or Coccidioides posadasii. They thrive in the alkaline desert soils of southern Arizona, northern Mexico and California's San Joaquin Valley. The fungi are endemic to New Mexico, Texas and parts of Central and South Americas. Theses are areas with mild winters and arid summers.

Valley Fever Definition

Valley fever is caused by fungi in the soil, which can be stirred into the air by anything that disrupts the soil such as farming, construction, and wind. A form of coccidioidomycosis or cocci infection, the fungi causing the disease can be breathed into the lungs.

Valley Fever Diagnosis

The signs and symptoms of valley fever are not used as basis for diagnosis. A definitive diagnosis depends on finding Coccidioides spherules or cysts in the tissue, blood, or other body secretions of the patient. Tests such as sputum smear or culture and blood tests are performed to diagnose valley fever.

Valley Fever Symptoms and Signs

The symptoms for acute valley fever is often few. Signs and symptoms usually occur one to three weeks after exposure and tend to resemble those of a flu, which can range form minor to severe. Among those symptoms are fever, cough, chest pain, chills, night sweats, headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, joint aches, and red, spotty rash.

Valley Fever Treatment

Those with acute valley fever often do not require treatment. Even with severe symptoms, affected individuals are often advised to get a bed rest and take lots of fluids. The approach is the same as when treating colds and flu but doctors still carefully monitor people with valley fever. If the patient is at increased risk of complications and symptoms become worse, the doctor may prescribe an antifungal medication such as fluconazole. People who are high-risk and those with chronic or disseminated disease are also prescribed with antifungal medications.

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