Coccidioidomycosis, commonly called valley fever, is a fungal infection of the lungs that can cause very serious problems. The fungus is found in the soil—most commonly in the southwestern United States, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America. The fungus can also affect other parts of the body besides the lungs, but it is then called disseminated valley fever.
Valley fever is caused by breathing the fungus into the lungs. The fungus lives in the soil, but it is transported through the air and into the lungs, where it infects people. When soil that contains the fungus is disturbed, spores are released into the air.
The disease cannot be transmitted from person to person.
Anyone is susceptible to valley fever, but certain people are at an increased risk:
Talk to your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.
Some people have no symptoms of valley fever. Others have:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and do a physical exam.
Tests may include the following:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
There is no completely effective way to prevent being infected with valley fever. Take extra precautions in areas where the infection is most common and during months when the chance of infection is increased.
To help reduce your chances of getting valley fever, take the following steps:
Valley Fever Connections
Public Health Agency of Canada
Ampel NM. New perspectives on coccidioidomycosis. Proc Am Thorac Soc . 2010 May;7(3):181-5.
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):172-8.
Environmental mediation of valley fever. University of Arizona Tucson website. Available at: http://www.casa.arizona.edu/~peter/valleyfever/web/index.html . Accessed April 19, 2007.
Fisher BT, Chiller TM, Prasad PA, et al. Hospitalizations for coccidioidomycosis at forty-one children's hospitals in the United States. Pediatr Infect Dis J . 2010 Mar;29(3):243-7.
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_for_Primary_care_Physicians.pdf . Accessed October 31, 2011.
Hector RF, Rutherford GW, Tsang CA, 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. Valley Fever Connections website. Available at: http://www.valley-fever.org/ . Accessed April 19, 2007.
Valley fever in humans. Valley Fever Center for Excellence website. Available at: http://www.vfce.arizona.edu/ . Accessed April 19, 2007.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Igor Puzanov, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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