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Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)


What is Valley Fever? — Valley Fever is an infection that can cause cough, fever, tiredness, and other symptoms. The infection is caused by a fungus that lives in soil and can travel in dust specks that you can breathe in. Most people who get Valley Fever get better without treatment. In fact, many people never even realize they have this infection.
The fungus that causes Valley Fever is found in:
Southwestern New Mexico
West Texas
Southern and central valleys of California
Eastern Washington State
Parts of Mexico and Central and South America
Most people who visit or live in areas where the Valley Fever fungus is found never get infected. Those who do get infected can usually fight off the infection on their own. But some people can get very sick from the infection. This is most likely to happen in people with HIV, people with certain types of cancer, and people who take medicines that suppress the body's infection-fighting system (called the "immune system").
Valley Fever is also called "coccidioidomycosis."
What are the symptoms of Valley Fever? — The symptoms can include:
Chest pain when taking a deep breath
Being tired
Aching joints
The symptoms can be mild and can last for weeks or months.
Should I see a doctor or nurse? — If you have symptoms of Valley Fever and you live in or visited an area where Valley Fever occurs, see a doctor or nurse. He or she will do an exam, learn about your symptoms, and ask where you live and where you have visited.
If the doctor or nurse suspects you have Valley Fever, he or she might do tests to look for signs of the fungus that causes Valley Fever. These can include blood tests and tests on a sample of mucus that you cough up.
How is Valley Fever treated? — Valley Fever does not always need to be treated. If you are fairly healthy, your doctor or nurse might want to wait and see if you can fight off the infection on your own. He or she will want to see frequently at first to make sure you are getting better.
There are medicines called "anti-fungals" that kill the fungus that causes Valley Fever. But these medicines can cause side effects, and people must take them for months or even years, so doctors try to use them only in people who can't fight off the infection on their own. People who might need anti-fungals include:
People with severe disease
People with HIV (or AIDS)
People who have had an organ transplant
People who have cancers of the blood
People who take medicines called "steroids" or other medicines that partly "turn off" the immune system
Pregnant women
Can Valley Fever be prevented? — If you live in an area where Valley Fever occurs, you can reduce your chances of getting infected by staying inside during dust storms and avoiding activities that could expose you to dust or desert soil.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 87358 Version 6.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
© 2020 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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