Healthy Choices Blog

News and inspiration for healthy living in Northern California


Coccidioides fungal spores

CDC says Valley Fever is a chief concern nationwide

Published: Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 - 4:27 pm

California’s Central Valley, the southern part of New Mexico, and southwest Texas all have been hit heavily by Valley Fever in the past year. The disease is caused by Coccidioides fungus – or “cocci” – found in the soil of warm, dry regions with low annual rainfall, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention.

In that respect, the respiratory disease may be affected and spread by climate change in regions receiving less precipitation than before.

Digging, agricultural production and high winds pick up the fungal spores from the soil and carry them to where humans can inhale them and become ill. Valley Fever cannot be transmitted person-to-person.

Valley Fever rates have increased tenfold from 1998 to 2011 in the southwest United States, Sekai Chideya of the CDC’s Mycotic Diseases Branch told a group of reporters in Atlanta from the Association of Health Care Journalists recently. Cases are likely much more numerous than known, because not all states require the disease to be publicly reported.

From 2000 to 2011, California has seen more than 25,000 Valley Fever related hospitalizations. In addition to respiratory distress, patients can experience a red skin rash that can worsen to lesions.

Call The Bee’s Cynthia H. Craft, (916) 321-1270.

Read more articles by Cynthia H. Craft

About Healthy Choices

Cynthia CraftCynthia H. Craft began her reporting and editing career in Columbus, Ohio, after graduating from Ohio State University. She worked at a Dallas, Texas, newspaper as an editor, and then at the Los Angeles Times, as an editor and Capitol Bureau correspondent. After working as editor in chief at the California Journal, Craft went to Lima, Peru, for three years as a visiting professor of journalism at Peruana Universidad de Ciencias Aplicadas. She was a fellow in 2012 at the National Library for Medicine in Washington, D.C. at the National Institute for Health. She's currently The Sacramento Bee's senior writer on health, a position made possible by a grant from The California Endowment.

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Phone: (916) 321-1270
On Twitter: @cynthiahcraft.

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Note: The Healthy Choices blog switched blog platforms in August 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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