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Valley fever symptoms: Fungal infection caused by coccidioides could be spreading in the United States

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Valley fever symptoms

According to a study published in GeoHealth.

“As temperatures warm up and the western half of the United States remains fairly dry, our desert soils will kind of expand and these drier conditions could allow coccidioids to live in new places,” Morgan said. Gorris, who led the GeoHealth study at the University of California at Irvine, told Today.com.

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As the infection continues to be diagnosed outside of the Southwest, here’s what you need to know about Valley fever.

What is valley fever?

Valley fever, which commonly occurs in the Southwest due to the region’s hot, dry soil, is an infection caused by inhaling microscopic spores of the coccidioides fungus. About 20,000 cases of Valley fever were reported in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 97% of cases were reported in Arizona and California. Rates are generally highest in people age 60 and older.

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Valley fever symptoms

While most people who breathe in the spores do not get sick, those who do usually feel better about themselves within weeks or months; however, some will need antifungal medication.

What are the symptoms of valley fever?

Symptoms of valley fever can appear between one and three weeks after inhaling the fungal spores and usually last for a few weeks to a few months. About 5 to 10 percent of people who get Valley fever will develop serious or long-term lung problems. Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle pain or joint pain
  • Rash on upper body or legs

How is valley fever diagnosed?

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Valley fever is most often diagnosed by a blood test; however, health care providers may also do imaging tests, such as chest x-rays or CT scans, to check for valley fever pneumonia.

Who is most likely to catch valley fever?

Valley fever symptoms

People who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill, such as those with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, people with diabetes, and black or Filipino people, are advised to avoid inhaling large amounts dust if they live in or travel to places where valley fever is common.

Is valley fever contagious?

Valley fever symptoms

No. “The fungus that causes valley fever, coccidioides, cannot spread from the lungs between people or between people and animals,” according to the CDC. “However, in extremely rare cases, a wound infection with coccidioides can transmit Valley fever to someone else, or the infection can spread through an organ transplant with an infected organ.”

How can I prevent valley fever?

Valley fever symptoms

Although it’s nearly impossible to avoid breathing in the coccidioides fungus in places where it’s common, the CDC recommends avoiding spending time in dusty places as much as possible, especially for people at high risk. You can also:

  • Wear a face mask, such as an N95 respirator
  • Stay indoors during dust storms
  • Avoid outdoor activities, such as yard work and gardening, that require close contact with dirt or dust
  • Use indoor air filtration systems
  • Clean skin lesions with soap and water
  • Take preventative antifungal medications as recommended by your doctor

Is there a cure or vaccine for valley fever?

Valley fever symptoms

Not yet. According to the CDC, scientists have been working on a vaccine to prevent Valley fever since the 1960s. However, researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson have created a two-dose vaccine that has been shown to be effective in dogs.

“I’m really hopeful,” said Dr. John Galgiani, director of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the University of Arizona School of Medicine. Today. “In my opinion, at this time, we have a candidate who is worth evaluating and I think he will probably be effective, and we will use him.”

Valley fever symptoms

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