Friday, January 19, 2018

Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis): Overview, Symptoms, Treatment

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Category: Valley Fever

Coccidioidomycosis, also known as “valley fever” or “San Joaquin Valley fever” is a fungal disease caused by inhaling airborne spores, often in dusty areas. The spores are known as “cocciodioides immitis.” Valley fever is usually found in arid areas of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, northwestern Mexico, and Central and South America.

Pregnant women, people of African or Asian descent, and those with weak immune systems are more vulnerable to the disease. In people with compromised immune system and AIDS, the infection is more likely to spread to the lungs, skin and other parts of the body system. Valley fever is not transmitted from person to person.

There are potential complications of valley fever—one is called erythema nodosum, which mostly affects Caucasian women. Another potential complication is permanent lung damage.

There are three main forms of coccidioidomycosis: Acute, Chronic and Disseminated. Acute Pulmonary coccidioidomycosis, the most common form incubates in 1-4 weeks, few symptoms or very mild symptoms and is curable with treatment.

There are approximately 150,000 cases of coccidioidomycosis each year in the United States. About 90%-95% of those cases resolve and 5%-10% become more severe, resulting in a chronic form of the disease.

The most serious form is called disseminated coccidioidomycosis, which is characterized by lesions in the lung and abscesses throughout the body, particularly in the subcutaneous tissues, skin, bone and the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). 0.1% (1 in 1,000) cases of coccidioidomycosis progress to disseminated coccidioidomycosis, which is a serious disease.

Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis) Symptoms

Most people infected with coccidioidomycosis (about 60%) do not develop symptoms. When symptoms of valley fever do occur (in about 40% of cases), they are usually flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, headaches, rash and muscle aches. Valley fever starts out as a respiratory illness and may progress to a persistent infection, chronic or disseminated coccidioidomycosis.

Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis) Treatment

Often, if you have no risk factors for complications, your own immune system will fight off the infection and it is only necessary to get plenty of rest, and get regular checks to make sure it has cleared up. If the infection has spread, or in patients with a high risk of complications, your physician may propose a variety of treatments such as antifungal therapy, surgical removal, or both. Antibiotics may also be presecribed to prevent bacterial infection.


  • Centers for Disease Control
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Utah Department of Health


3 Responses to “Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis): Overview, Symptoms, Treatment”
  1. Kathrine says:

    how many people a year get Valley Fever?

  2. Noel says:

    can people die of valley fever?

    • Keith Shane says:

      yes 16 died in coalinga ca. 2009 mostly in prisons……. 5 were prison gaurds at pleasent valley state prison