Valley Fever is called so because of its prevalence in specific geographical areas of the North, Central and South American continents. Though it is also popularly known as Desert Fever or San Joaquin Valley Fever, or California Valley Fever, you will be diagnosed with a condition called Coccidioimycosis if you were to go to a hospital – it’s medical term. Cases of Coccidioimycosis are fairly common in the planting, harvesting and post-rain seasons in Arizona, Texas, Utah, California, Nevada, etc.
So what really is this disease with a complex name? At a basic level, it is a fungal disease caused by Coccidioides immitus and Coccidioides posadasii. There are basically 3 types of this condition and tests prove which of the three forms a person is infected with. The forms are Primary Pulmonary Coccidioidomycosis (PPC), Primary Cutaneous Coccidioidomycosis (PCC) and Disseminated Coccidioidomycosis (DC).
Valley fever has a wide range of presentations, which usually appear within 1-3 weeks of exposure to the fungi. It is important that you consult a doctor if you experience any or a combination of the following symptoms:
Fever, Cough, Headache, Chills Loss of appetite , Joint and Muscle Stiffness, Body ache and stiffness, Wheezing, Blood–stained Sputum, Sweating, Rashes and Skin lesions, Chest Pain, Photo sensitivity, Joint swelling, Enlarged Lymph nodes, Altered Mental state.
Cases of Coccidioimycosis have been reported as late as 2007 in Arizona’s Maricopa County where approximately 3,450 cases were reported during that year. Similarly, in 2005, San Joaquin Valley reported at least 3% of its population to be infected with the condition.
Though the risk groups primarily include those who work in the fields (as both the fungi types reside in soil), construction site workers and others such as archaeological excavators and military field training personnel, it is also common amongst those with a weakened immune system such as pregnant women, AIDS patients, etc. Races such as Filipino, African and Native Americans are susceptible to the disease as well.
Primary Pulmonary Coccidioimycosis (PPC) is rare and has few symptoms.