Valley Fever Cases Set Another California Record
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that during 2017, California reported the highest annual number of new Valley Fever since coccidioidomycosis became individually reportable in 1995.
During 2017, 7,466 new cases of Valley Fever were reported to CDPH.
Approximately 10,000 coccidioidomycosis cases are reported in the United States annually, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDPH says they are unclear why there has been such a large increase in Valley Fever cases.
But, low testing rates suggest that Valley fever may have been under-recognized.
The highest coccidioidomycosis cases were reported in the Central Valley and central coast regions, including Kern, Kings, San Luis Obispo, Fresno, Tulare, Madera, and Monterey counties.
Nearly 64 percent of the 2017 case-patients resided in one of these counties, with 37 percent residing in Kern County.
CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith said in a press release, "If individuals develop flu-like symptoms, such as a cough, fever, or difficulty breathing, lasting two weeks or more, they should ask their healthcare provider about Valley Fever."
Valley Fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis, or cocci, is caused by breathing in the spores of a fungus that grows in certain types of soil. The fungal spores can be present in dust that gets into the air when it is windy or when the soil is disturbed, such as through digging in the dirt during construction.
Most infected people will not show signs of illness.
Those who do become ill with Valley Fever may have flu-like symptoms that can last for two weeks or more. While most people recover fully, some may develop more severe complications which include pneumonia, or infection of the brain, joints, bone, skin, or other organs.
There is currently no vaccine, but antifungal medications are available at most pharmacies.
Individuals should specifically ask their healthcare provider about Valley Fever if they think they may be infected.
While anyone can get Valley Fever in California, those most at-risk for severe disease include people 60 years or older, African-Americans, Filipinos, pregnant women, and people with diabetes or conditions that weaken their immune system.
For additional information on Valley Fever, please visit the CDPH website.