Pulmonary Coccidioidomycosis: Commonly Known as Valley Fever

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Nodule in the left upper lobe of a patient diagnosed with coccidioidomycosis on biopsy

Coccidioidomycosis is a fungal disease caused by Coccidioides immitis/C. posadasii. It is endemic in certain parts of US States of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and northwestern Mexico.

Synonyms:

It is also known by the names of “California disease”, “Desert rheumatism”, “San Joaquin valley fever”, and “Valley fever”.

Prevalance:
Construction workers, Farmers, Military personnel or Archaeologists indeed anyone having relation to a profession involving soil, dirt and dust are most likely to get Valley Fever. You are also at higher risk if you are caught in dust storms, or if your recreation, such as biking or 4-wheeling, takes you to dusty areas. One thing you can do to minimize your risk of getting Valley Fever is to wear a mask if you have to be out in blowing dust.

Symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Chest pain — varying from a mild feeling of constriction to intense pressure resembling a heart attack
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Joint aches
  • Red, spotty rash

About two thirds of the people who are infected never notice any symptoms, or experience mild symptoms and never even get treatment.

The fungus responsible for coccidioidomycosis
Progression of disease:
The usual course of disease in otherwise healthy people is complete recovery within six months. In most cases, the body’s immune response is effective and no specific course of treatment is necessary. About five percent of cases of Valley Fever pneumonia (infection of the lungs) result in the development of nodules in the lung. These are small residual patches of infection that generally appear as solitary lesions, typically one to one and a half inches in diameter, and often produce no symptoms. On a chest x-ray, these nodules resemble lung cancer. Unfortunately, it is usually not possible to make a definite diagnosis without removing a part or the entire nodule by bronchoscopy, needle-aspiration or surgery.
The doctor says I have a cavity. Do I need surgery?

Cavities occur in about 5% of patients with pulmonary cocci. The typical cocci cavity is thin-walled and solitary. Coccidioidal cavities are commonly asymptomatic (do not cause symptoms) and about 50% will disappear within 2 years of their occurrence. A cavity may persist for years with minor changes. About one-third of the patients with cavities may experience hemoptysis (coughing blood). The hemoptysis is often recurrent but generally not life-threatening. If rupture of the cavity is a large possibility, surgical removal may be necessary.

Is it contangious?

No. You cannot get it from another person or from an animal.

Death rates:

Less than 1% of the people who get Valley Fever die from it.

Who are the experts?

Valley Fever Center for Excellence is a center dedicated for the research in this disease by University of Arizona

You can always contact them in hand or my digital or telephonic means :

1656 E. Mabel St. P.O. Box 245215 Tucson, Arizona 85724-4224

Phone: (520) 626-6517 Fax: (520) 626-4971

vfever@email.arizona.edu