Valley Fever FAQ

Fall 2010 CSANews Issue 76  |  Posted date : Sep 15, 2010.Back to list

Valley Fever is a fungal lung infection caused by coccidiodes organisms. The fungi, found in soil, are stirred into the air and then breathed into the lungs.

The fungi that cause Valley Fever thrive in the southwestern U.S., where temperatures are high and the soil is dry. Affected areas include Texas, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and California's San Joaquin Valley. 

What are the risk factors?

Anyone living in or travelling through the affected areas is susceptible to Valley Fever. Certain people have an increased risk of illness-related complications; these people include outdoor workers (ranchers, archaeologists and military personnel), older adults, and those with diabetes or otherwise-weakened immune systems. Filipinos, Hispanics and African-Americans are more susceptible than Caucasians. 

What are the symptoms?

More than two-thirds of those infected with Valley Fever experience no 
symptoms, or the symptoms are so mild that medical treatment is not considered. For those who do experience symptoms, common complaints are fatigue, cough, chest pain, fever, rash, headache and aching joints. 

Is Valley Fever contagious? 

Valley Fever is not contagious. It cannot be transmitted from another person or from an animal. It is important to note here, however, that animals such as dogs, horses, cattle and sheep can also develop the illness.

How is it treated?

Most people do not require treatment to fight off the infection. For those who do, anti-fungal drugs are prescribed.