Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis or “cocci”), a disease commonly occurring in Southwest Utah, is caused by inhaling a fungus (coccidioides) found in soil. Because coccidioidomycosis has a similar clinical presentation to Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses, many cases go undiagnosed or have a significantly delayed diagnosis.
Ways to avoid contracting Valley Fever:
Note that these are recommended, but haven’t been proven to prevent Valley Fever.
- Avoid areas with lots of dust i.e. construction or excavation sites. If you can’t avoid them, wear an N95 Respirator Mask.
- Keep windows closed during dust storms.
- Avoid activities that involve close contact to dirt or dust i.e. yard work, gardening, and digging.
- Use air filtration measures indoors.
- Clean skin injuries exposed to dust/dirt with soap and water to reduce chances of developing a skin infection.
- Take preventative antifungal medication if prescribed.
VALLEY FEVER IS NOT CONTAGIOUS
Once you have had the disease, chances of contracting it again are rare and there is no vaccine for the disease.
Signs you may have contracted Valley Fever:
- Shortness of Breath
- Night Sweats
- Muscle Aches
- Joint Pain
- Rashes (on the upper body and legs)
VALLEY FEVER CAN SPREAD TO OTHER PARTS OF THE BODY
A small number of cases develop serious or long term problems in their lungs.
Most common healthcare provider tests given for Valley Fever:
- Take Blood Samples (for signs of fungus antibodies or antigens)
- Imaging Tests (i.e. chest x-rays or CT scan)
- Tissue Biopsy
- Fluid Culture (for signs of fungus growth)
Antifungal medications are typically given to those who are at high risk of developing severe Valley Fever:
- Weakened Immune System
- Pregnant Women
- Black or Filipino
VALLEY FEVER TREATMENT IS USUALLY 3-6 MONTHS OF MEDICATION
There are no over-the-counter medications to treat Valley Fever. For many individuals, symptoms of Valley Fever will go away within a few months without treatment.
Primary Care Professionals Tutorial:
Prepared by Valley Fever Center for Excellence, The University of Arizona.
- Spectrum of Disease
- Current Therapies
- Case Reporting
- Value of Early Diagnosis
- Primary Care Management of Cocci
Click here for pdf.