Valley Fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis or san joaquin valley fever, is a respiratory illness caused by the fungus Coccidioides. It is most common in the Southwest United States. Particularly in areas with dry climates such as the Sonoran Desert region of Arizona and California. Valley Fever typically starts off with flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, fatigue and even shortness of breath. In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms associated with Valley Fever, and management plan.
Signs and Symptoms of Valley Fever
The most common sign of Valley Fever is a cough that lasts longer than two weeks. Other signs include fever, chest pain, muscle aches and joint pain, headache and sore throat. Shortness of breath can also be present in some people infected with Valley Fever.
In more severe cases where the fungus has spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs or skin, there may be additional signs. This include rash on the skin or unexplained weight loss. People who suffer from immunosuppression due to illness or medications may develop more serious complications. such as meningitis or invasive infection throughout their body which requires hospitalization.
Causes and Risk Factors
Valley fever is an infectious disease caused by a type of fungus found in arid regions around the world, mostly in the southwestern United States and parts of Latin America – it’s caused by inhaling spores from soil contaminated with fungal organisms called Coccidioides immitis which leads to inflammation and infection if not treated quickly enough using antibiotics given under specific instruction and supervision based on lab results and severity level before complications arise, but prevention measures include avoiding working outside without protective gear, apply insect repellent when needed & wear a face mask over exposed regions especially when outdoors.
The diagnosis typically involves sending a physical sample (blood or sputum) for direct identification or culture testing through an experienced laboratory. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing is also available in some locations. PCR tends to be more accurate than regular culture tests if done correctly. Serological testing (also known as antibody tests) may also be useful in making a diagnosis. If done and interpreted properly this test can also be very helpful.
Prevention and Management of Valley Fever
Try to avoid activities that place you at risk for acquiring valley fever. For instance, walking through dirt fields contaminated with coccidioides as these will enable inhalation into airways leading into our bodies. Wear protective clothing when outdoors, particularly in dusty areas. Also, use a face mask when working outside where dust is present as this will hinder airborne spores from entering our respiratory system more effectively. Applying insect repellent containing DEET in amounts indicated on the product label can help reduce risks. Especially, if exposed to rodents who are known to carry and spread the fungal spores further within populated areas.
Management for valley fever depends on how severe your condition is. For mild cases, self-care measures such as rest and fluids will suffice; however, those with more severe infections may require hospitalization and antifungal medications to treat their condition. In addition to medications, lifestyle changes are recommended including wearing protective clothing when outdoors in polluted areas; avoiding contact with animals or agricultural products; showering immediately after outdoor activity; avoiding travel to highly endemic areas such as Central/South America; immune system support via supplements like garlic extract may be beneficial too although there is limited research on this yet. Additionally, it’s important to reduce stress levels which could adversely affect immunity further prolonging recovery times associated too – so guidance around appropriate stress relief techniques should be considered concurrent with all treatments being employed otherwise