Published On: Thu, Jan 3rd, 2013

Arizona reports more than 12,000 cases of Valley fever in 2012

Coccidioides immitis arthroconidiaImage/CDC

Coccidioides immitis arthroconidia

Valley fever, or coccidioidomycosis is a fungal disease that is endemic in the southwestern United States. This  includes southern Arizona, central California, Southern New Mexico, and west Texas.

Health officials in Arizona say that in 2012, there were more than 12,000 cases of the fungal disease reported, according to a East Valley Tribune report Jan. 3.

The report goes on to say that this number is quite a bit higher than the five-year median for January through November of 9,075 cases.

Of course in 2011, the number was even higher than 2012. Some 15, 000 cases were reported that year, which was the year of the massive dust storm that whipped up so much dirt and dust in the air from north of Tucson to Phoenix and all the way to Yuma.

The 12,000 case number may be significantly lower than the true number, according to health officials. “I think a lot of people who have Valley Fever do have mild symptoms and are infected and don’t realize it,” said Shoana Anderson, office chief for the Arizona’s office of infectious disease services, part of the state health department.

“For all those people (confirmed with the disease), there are probably five to 10 people who have mild symptoms that don’t get picked up by providers.”

People get infected with the fungus Coccidioides immitis by inhaling fungal spores that become airborne after disturbance of contaminated soil by humans or natural disasters like a dust storm.

In an endemic area like Arizona, up to 50% of residents will have already been exposed to this mold.

Approximately 60% of people infected with Coccidioides are asymptomatic and have self-limited respiratory tract infections. If symptoms do appear, they will appear 1-3 weeks after exposure. The symptoms, if present are usually non-specific, flu-like symptoms: fever, cough, headache, rash and muscle aches. Most make a full recovery within a month more or less.

However, in a small number of people (approx. 1%), the fungal infection can cause serious infection disseminating to visceral organs, the central nervous system, bone, skin or lymph nodes.

Disseminated Coccidioides infections occur more frequently in dark-skinned races. In addition, pregnant woman and the immunocompromised are more predisposed to disseminated infections.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. New Mexico reports rare death from Valley fever | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] fever is much more common in neighboring Arizona, which recorded 12,000 cases in 2012, and areas of California. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” […]

  2. New Mexico reports rare death from Valley fever - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] fever is much more common in neighboring Arizona, which recorded 12,000 cases in 2012, and areas of California. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” […]

  3. Talking Valley fever with Dr. John Galgiani - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] November 9-17, 2013 is the 11th “Valley Fever Awareness Week” in the state of Arizona, a state which reported some 12,000 cases of the fungal infection in 2012. […]

  4. ‘Valley Fever Awareness Week’ is November 9-17, 2013 in Arizona - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] 2012, Arizona reported more than 12,000 cases of the fungal […]

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