What Is Valley Fever?

Valley Fever is the common name for a fungal infection known as coccidioidomycosis. It is an infection caused by the fungus Coccidioides. The fungus is known to live in the soil in the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico and Central and South America Valley Fever is not contagious, as it is contracted upon inhalation of the fungal spores. When it’s inhaled, the spores change form within the tissues of the body and develop into infection.

Humans and animals can contract Valley Fever. Most cases have no symptoms (which is why diagnosis can be difficult) while others may take months and even sometimes over a year to manifest. Those diagnosed with Valley Fever frequently complain of fatigue and joint aches that can last for months. The chronic forms of Valley Fever may last years.

How do you get Valley Fever?

Valley Fever develops when the airborne spores of the Coccidioides fungus are inhaled. The spores are carried in dust particles from the soil by the wind when the desert soil is disturbed. Anyone who lives, visits, or travels through the areas where the fungus grows in the soil may acquire Valley Fever. It’s difficult to prevent exposure in areas where it’s common in the environment, but the risk is lowered by avoiding breathing in large amounts of dust if you are in these areas.

Symptoms of Valley Fever

Patients are commonly misdiagnosed as pneumonia, as there are several similar symptoms. Most patients report flu-like symptoms that usually go away after a few weeks. Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle aches or joint pain
  • Rash on upper body or legs

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If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, download this PDF to take to your doctor.

Testing and Treatment

Early detection and accurate diagnosis are critical for improved outcomes.  MiraVista Diagnostics offers several testing options for accurately detecting Valley Fever.

If you think you have Valley Fever, ask your doctor to order one of these tests:

Learn more about Valley Fever through MiraVista’s clinical resources and published research.

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