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Coccidioidomycosis

(Valley Fever)

Definition

Coccidioidomycosis, commonly called valley fever, is a fungal infection of the lungs that can cause serious problems.

Causes

The fungus that causes valley fever is found in the soil, most commonly in the southwestern United States, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America. The fungus lives in the soil, but it is transported through the air and into the lungs, where it infects people who breathe it in. When soil that contains the fungus is disturbed, spores are released into the air.
The disease cannot be transmitted from person to person.

Risk Factors

People who are at increased risk of exposure to the fungus include:
People who are at increased risk of getting valley fever after exposure include:

Symptoms

Some people have no symptoms of valley fever. Others may have:
The fungus can affect other parts of the body besides the lungs, but it is then called disseminated valley fever.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

Prevention

There is no effective way to prevent being infected with valley fever. Take extra precautions in areas where the infection is most common and during warm months when the chance of infection is increased.
To help reduce your chances of getting valley fever, take the following steps:

RESOURCES

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

Valley Fever Connections http://www.valley-fever.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References

Ampel NM. New perspectives on coccidioidomycosis. Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2010 May;7(3):181-185.

Ampel NM, Giblin A, Mourani JP, Galgiani JN. Factors and outcomes associated with the decision to treat primary pulmonary coccidioidomycosis. Clin Infect Dis. 2009 Jan 15;48(2):172-178.

Fisher BT, Chiller TM, et al. Hospitalizations for coccidioidomycosis at forty-one children's hospitals in the United States. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2010 Mar;29(3):243-247.

Galgiani JN. Valley fever tutorial for primary care professionals. The Valley Fever Center for Excellence website. Available at http://www.vfce.arizona.edu/resources/pdf/Tutorial%5Ffor%5FPrimary%5Fcare%5FPhysicians.pdf. Updated 2012. Accessed December 22, 2014.

Hector RF, Rutherford GW, et al. The public health impact of coccidioidomycosis in Arizona and California. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011;8(4):1150-1173.

Valley fever in people. Valley Fever Center for Excellence website. Available at: https://www.vfce.arizona.edu/ValleyFeverInPeople/Default.aspx. Accessed December 22, 2014.

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