Valley Fever?

Coccidioidomycosis
Coccidioidomycosis (Photo credit: Pulmonary Pathology)

If you haven’t heard of valley fever, you’re not alone. Although cases in states like California are rising, public awareness is low and misdiagnoses from doctors are sadly high. The AP reported an 850 percent spike in cases across the country from 1998 to 2011, with California and Arizona being the worst states.

“The fever has hit California’s agricultural heartland particularly hard in recent years, with incidence dramatically increasing in 2010 and 2011,” wrote the AP’s Gosia Wozniacka. “The disease — which is prevalent in arid regions of the United States, Mexico, Central and South America — can be contracted by simply breathing in fungus-laced spores from dust disturbed by wind as well as human or animal activity.”

Why have things gotten so bad? “The fungus is sensitive to environmental changes, experts say, and a hotter, drier climate has increased dust carrying the spores,” wrote Wozniacka.

Valley fever can have a host of symptoms and is painful, debilitating and sometimes deadly. It sometimes starts with flu-like symptoms but “the infection can spread from the lungs to the brain, bones, skin, even eyes, leading to blindness, skin abscesses, lung failure, even death,” reported Wozniacka.

One of the groups most at risk are prison inmates. “Prisoners are vulnerable both because they are more likely to have chronic diseases like HIV and diabetes, and because they are often coming from outside the geographic area and have not developed immunity to the fungus,” wrote Tracy Wood from the Voice of OC for the Reporting on Health Collaborative. 

This reminds me of a story I wrote years ago about a new disease called BLASTO-mycosis – I am going to google it and share soon! Trace

 READ MORE HERE: http://www.alternet.org/environment/climate-change-fueling-deadly-disease-california-and-other-parched-states?akid=10427.116590.e6WpBh&rd=1&src=newsletter839254&t=3

SYMPTOMS: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/valley-fever/DS00695/DSECTION=symptoms

NPR REPORT: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/05/13/181880987/cases-of-mysterious-valley-fever-rise-in-american-southwest?ft=1&f=3

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