Valley fever often doesn’t cause symptoms, but when symptoms do develop they can become serious and even fatal. Triple board-certified pulmonologist Alpha J. Anders, MD, FCCP, diagnoses and treats valley fever at Comprehensive Pulmonary Care in Bakersfield, California. If you suspect you may have valley fever, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.
Valley fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis (cocci for short), is a lung infection caused by a fungus called Coccidioides. This fungus lives in the soil of certain regions, including parts of the Southwest such as California and Arizona.
You get valley fever from inhaling the fungi's airborne spores. However, the disease doesn’t spread from person to person and not everyone who’s exposed to Coccidioides spores becomes sick.
Valley fever is the first form of coccidioidomycosis infection. Initially, this disease may resemble a cold or flu. Common valley fever symptoms include:
Mild cases of valley fever usually get better on their own. However, if the initial infection doesn’t resolve, you may develop chronic coccidioidomycosis. This is a more serious condition that may turn into a chronic form of pneumonia.
Rarely, coccidioidomycosis progresses even further into the disseminated form of the disease. Disseminated coccidioidomycosis is the most serious form, infecting other parts of the body, including the brain, heart, and liver.
Anyone was exposed to the fungus spores can get Valley fever. However, you may be at greater risk of developing a more serious form of disease if you are pregnant, over the age of 60, not of European racial background and/or have a weakened immune system. How is valley fever diagnosed and treated?
To diagnose coccidiomycosis infection a keen sense of the clinical signs and symptoms of the infection supported by generally by a positive blood test-enlarge most cases are not diagnosed by routine culture methods. Dr. Anders tests your blood or a sample of phlegm to check for fungus spores. This disease is difficult to diagnose based on symptoms alone since they resemble those of a cold or flu.
After he confirms you have valley fever, Dr. Anders creates an individualized treatment plan. Depending on your needs, he may recommend oral or intravenous antifungal medications to resolve the infection. Dr. Anders closely monitors your conditions throughout treatment to ensure none of the infection remains in your system.
Don’t wait for valley fever to become a serious problem. Call Comprehensive Pulmonary Care or schedule an appointment online as soon as you notice symptoms of the disease.