Valley Fever

table with dust storm with 2019 case rate data of valley fever showing Arizona as highest stateValley fever (also called coccidioidomycosis, or cocci) is an infection caused by the fungus Coccidioides, that can be found in the soil. The term “Valley fever” usually refers to Coccidioides infection in the lungs but the infection can spread to other parts of the body in severe cases.

The fungus is found in the soil throughout the southwestern United States (Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah) and in Central and South America. Coccidioides has also been identified in other parts of the United States including south-central Washington.

  1. Signs & Symptoms
  2. Diagnosis
  3. Treatment
  4. Data and Reports

Most people who get Valley fever never experience any symptoms. About 40% of people will experience symptoms, which may appear between one to four weeks after they breathe in the fungal spores. Symptoms may include: 

  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle aches or joint pain
  • Rash on upper body or legs

In extremely rare cases, the fungal spores can enter the skin through a cut, wound, or splinter and cause a skin infection. 

Duration of symptoms

Symptoms of Valley fever can often last for a few weeks to a few months. 

  • Between 5% and 10% of people with Valley fever develop serious or long-term problems in their lungs. 
  • People with disseminated infection can have symptoms lasting much longer. About 1% of people have disseminated Valley fever, which occurs when the infection disseminates, or spreads, to other parts of the body, such as the skin, bones, joints, and/or brain. Disseminated Valley fever typically requires life-long medication.
  • Some people may have symptoms that go away without any treatment. 

If symptoms last for more than a week, a healthcare provider should be contacted.