Valley Fever often goes undiagnosed because of the common cold symptoms it produces. If left untreated death can occur.
In the dry deserts of the world an often undiagnosed medical condition spreads through the wind infecting a wide range of unsuspecting people. This disease that can travel with the wind is called Valley Fever. This disease is caused by a fungus that lives in the soil. This fungus can thrive in warm, dry environments like the deserts of Mexico and Arizona. The fungal infection is spread into the air when the soil is disturbed like in a dust storm. Because of this, people with digging jobs and contractors are often diagnosed with this condition. Once the fungus is in the air it is inhaled into the lungs resulting in Valley Fever.
Although Valley Fever can affect anyone, many factors can increase a person’s risk for becoming infected with this disease. People with weak immune systems are likely to be infected, especially those that suffer from HIV/AIDS. Pregnant women and diabetics have an increased risk to Valley Fever.
Ethnicity has shown to increase a person’s risk for Valley Fever. Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and African Americans have shown to have a higher chance of getting Valley Fever than others. Filipinos are also known to frequently have this infection.
Environmental factors can increase a person’s risk for Valley Fever as well. The hot deserts, like those in the Southwestern United States, have high reports of this infection. Windy environments can increase a person’s risk. Construction workers, farmers, and other outside labor jobs increase the risk of contracting this disease.
Valley Fever often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms associated with it are so common to colds and flu. Although Valley Fever has cold-like symptoms it is not contagious from person to person. Symptoms usually occur after the incubation period which lasts about one to three weeks. The symptoms of this disease are fevers, dry coughs, and chest pains. A person with this disease can also experience joint pain, fatigue, and headaches. Rarely, a rash or red bumps will be visible on the body. Because these symptoms are so similar to other illnesses Valley Fever often goes undiagnosed and untreated. It is then able to spread to other areas of the body.
If Valley Fever is left untreated it can begin to infect other areas of the body. It can spread to the lymph nodes, other organs, bones, and skin. If it is left untreated for a prolonged period of time, the coverings of the brain and spinal cord can become infected.
Valley Fever can easily be diagnosed by a doctor. The doctor will ask a series of questions involving recent travel, environment conditions, and work history. Chest x-rays are used to diagnose this condition as well as blood tests. Anti-fungal medications are used to kill the infection. Frequent check ups and testing are needed to check to make sure the infection doesn’t reoccur.