Valley fever is caused by a fungus that lives in the soil. The fungus is called Coccidioides. The infection that causes the fever is called coccidioidomycosis, so you can see why it’s easier to stick with the name Valley fever.
You catch the infection by breathing in the tiny fungal spores that float through the air. Most people who are exposed to the fungus don’t get sick. If you develop symptoms, the infection usually settles in your lungs, then goes away on its own in a few weeks or months.
About 5-10% of those who get Valley fever develop a severe infection or the condition becomes chronic. In about 1% of Valley fever infections, it spreads from the lungs to the central nervous system, skin, bones, or joints.
If you live or travel in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, or Utah, you’re at risk for getting Valley fever. The incidence is high, and the number of cases is on the rise in California.
Anyone can develop Valley fever, but some groups of people are at an increased risk for developing a severe infection:
Symptoms appear in one to three weeks after breathing in the spores. If your symptoms last more than a week, please call the team at Holvik Family Health Center and schedule a checkup.
You may experience:
Valley fever is treated with antifungal medications, which is the only treatment that works. Your treatment will last three to six months. If you develop a severe lung infection or it spreads to other parts of your body, you may need to stay in the hospital to be certain complications like meningitis don’t develop.
Valley fever is not contagious. Dr. Holvik may recommend that you stay at home to rest and fight the infection, but you can go out without worrying about spreading it to others.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!