How to treat valley fever

Valley fever is a fungal lung infection that can be devastating. Learning about Valley fever can help you and your doctor recognize the symptoms early.

Valley fever is an infection caused by a fungus that lives in the soil. About 10,000 cases are reported in the United States each year, mostly from Arizona and California. Valley fever can be misdiagnosed because its symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses. Here are some important things to know about Valley fever, also called coccidioidomycosis.

How to treat valley fever

From soil to lungs

The fungus that causes Valley fever, Coccidioides, is found in the southwestern United States, parts of Mexico and Central America, and parts of South America. The fungus has also been found in south-central Washington state. It probably lives in other areas in the western United States. People can get Valley fever by breathing in the microscopic fungus from the air in these areas. Valley fever does not spread from person to person.

Common symptoms may lead to delayed diagnosis

Many people who are exposed to the fungus never have symptoms. Other people may have symptoms that include:

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

The symptoms of Valley fever can be similar to those of other common illnesses, which may cause delays in getting patients correctly diagnosed and treated. For many people, symptoms go away without any treatment, after weeks or months, but healthcare providers prescribe antifungal medicine for some people to try to reduce symptoms or prevent the infection from getting worse. People who have severe lung infections or infections that have spread to other parts of the body always need antifungal treatment and may need to stay in the hospital.

How to treat valley fever

This map shows CDC’s current estimate of where the fungus that causes coccidioidomycosis (Valley fever) live in the environment in the United States. The fungus is not distributed evenly in the shaded areas, might not be present everywhere in the shaded areas, and can also be outside the shaded areas. Darker shading shows areas where Coccidioides is more likely to live. Diagonal shading shows the potential range of Coccidioides.

Estimated areas with coccidioidomycosis (Valley fever)

This map shows CDC’s current estimate of where the fungus that causes coccidioidomycosis (Valley fever) live in the environment in the United States. The fungus is not distributed evenly in the shaded areas, might not be present everywhere in the shaded areas, and can also be outside the shaded areas. Darker shading shows areas where Coccidioides is more likely to live. Diagonal shading shows the potential range of Coccidioides.

Valley fever is a disease caused by the Coccidioides fungus. It thrives in dry, dusty areas particularly in the southwestern United States. It is important to know if you live in an area where the fungus tends to thrive as a huge part of prevention is knowing that you may be at risk. Those who live in Arizona, Southern California, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico are all at risk locations and even visitors can be exposed to the fungus. Thankfully it is not contagious – you cannot spread it to others nor can you get it from an infected person.

About forty percent of the people who have been infected with valley fever will never show symptoms, those that do are likely to think they have the flu. If you begin to show symptoms of skin lesions you should seek medical attention immediately – disseminated valley fever can kill you.

What are the symptoms of Valley Fever?

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Chest pain that varies from mild constriction to feeling like a heart attack
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Joint ache
  • Red rash
  • Spotty rash
  • Red bumps that turn brown
  • Red rash with blisters
  • Red rash with pimples

If you develop the following symptoms seek medical attention immediately:

  • Skin lesions
  • Ulcers
  • Large nodules
  • Painful, swollen joints

Be sure you tell your doctor if you have been to a place where valley fever is endemic such as Arizona.

How can I prevent Valley Fever?

The best ways to prevent valley fever are common sense precautions. It is most prevalent during the summer months when it is dry.

  • Wear a mask.
  • Stay inside during dust storms
  • Wet the soil before digging to drown spores.
  • Keep doors and windows tightly closed

In this Article

  • Where It Happens
  • Who’s At Risk
  • Complications
  • When to Call the Doctor
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Can You Prevent It?
  • Animals Can Get It, Too

Many of us are more familiar with the fever, chills, and other signs of the flu than we’d like to be. If you live in the southwestern United States or certain other areas, there’s a small chance that these symptoms could signal something else: valley fever.

Valley fever isn’t contagious, so you can’t catch it from someone else. Fungus that grows in the ground causes it. When something stirs up the soil, spores from the fungus fly into the air, where people breathe them in.

Most people don’t get sick. And when valley fever symptoms do appear, they usually go away on their own. If not, there are medicines that can typically clear them up. But in rare cases, the fungus spreads to other parts of the body. That’s much more serious, so it’s important to know what’s happening.

Another reason to keep a lookout: Pets can come down with valley fever, too.

You might hear your doctor use the medical name for valley fever: coccidioidomycosis. It is also known as San Joaquin Valley fever or desert rheumatism.

Where It Happens

The types of fungus that cause valley fever thrive in dry, desert soil. When the wind picks up their spores, it can blow them for hundreds of miles. They exist in these areas of the U.S.:

  • Arizona
  • Southwestern New Mexico
  • Areas around El Paso, Texas
  • Central and Southern California, especially the San Joaquin Valley
  • Eastern Washington state

The fungus’ area also reaches down into Mexico. And it has turned up in Central and South American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, and Venezuela.

Who’s At Risk

If you go to the affected regions, you could be exposed. Someone who is age 60 or older is more likely to get it. The risk is also greater for:

  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Pregnant women
  • People with diabetes
  • African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Filipinos, likely due to genetic reasons

Signs of valley fever usually show up 2 to 3 weeks after the fungus gets into your lungs. You might have:

  • Fever
  • Chest pains
  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Joint aches
  • A red, spotty rash, usually on the lower legs

Continued

If symptoms do appear, recovering from them may take months. The time depends on your general health and how many of the fungus spores have gotten into your lungs.

If symptoms don’t improve on their own or you don’t get treatment, valley fever may eventually develop into a long-term type of pneumonia. This mainly happens in people whose immune systems are weak. The symptoms include milk fever, unexplained weight loss, chest pains, and coughing up mucus with blood in it.

Complications

In the most serious cases, the infection moves beyond the lungs into other parts of the body.

The possible effects include skin sores that are worse than the rash mentioned above, painful, swollen joints, and meningitis, which is an infection around the brain and spinal cord.

When to Call the Doctor

Make the call if you have symptoms of valley fever and they last more than a week. Checking with a professional is especially important if you’re in a high-risk group.

Diagnosis

The main test for valley fever is for your doctor to take a sample of your blood. The results should come back in a few days.

You may also be asked to cough up a mucus sample so it can be tested.

Your doctor might take an X-ray.

They might also take a sample of tissue from your body. If the tissue or blood needs to go to a lab for more tests, the results might need a few weeks to get back to your doctor.

Treatment

Valley fever usually doesn’t need medical treatment. For people who are otherwise healthy, bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids are enough. Your doctor will keep a close watch on how you’re doing.

If the symptoms hang on or get worse, your doctor might prescribe a drug that attacks illnesses caused by fungus. There are several options, depending on how severe the symptoms are. In the most extreme cases, such as people who develop meningitis, lifelong medication may be necessary.

Continued

One bit of good news: In many cases, people who have valley fever become immune for the rest of their lives.

Since you can’t spread it to other people, you don’t have to stay home for that reason. But it’s important to get as much rest as possible until your symptoms are gone.

Can You Prevent It?

There’s no vaccine. But if you live in or visit a region where valley fever is a possibility, it helps to take common-sense precautions, such as:

  • Avoid dusty areas, such as construction sites
  • Stay indoors during dust storms, and keep the windows shut
  • Avoid activities that put you in contact with dust and soil, such as yard work and gardening
  • Filter the air inside your home

These steps are particularly important for people who are at high risk.

Animals Can Get It, Too

You can’t spread valley fever to, or get it from, your pet. But animals can get it on their own.

Dogs are most vulnerable. Just like with people, many of the animals that inhale the fungus don’t get sick. When they do, they may cough, lack energy, or lose weight. If you think your pet may have valley fever, check with your vet.

Sources

Center for Food Security & Public Health, Iowa State University: “Coccidioidomycosis.”

CDC: “Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis).”

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on March 4, 2021.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

What is valley fever?

Valley fever, or coccidioidomycosis, is an infection caused by a fungus. You can get the infection if you breathe in the fungus germs. The germs are found in soil and dust in parts of the United States, Mexico, Central and South America. In the United States, most cases of valley fever occur in California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.

What are the signs and symptoms of valley fever?

You may develop the following flu-like symptoms 1 to 4 weeks after you breathe in the fungus:

  • Cough or trouble breathing
  • Fever, chills, or night sweats
  • Chest, joint, or muscle pain
  • Tiredness or headache
  • A rash
  • Tender, swollen, red lumps on your legs
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss

How is valley fever diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. Tell him or her if you have traveled recently or if you work outside. You may need any of the following tests:

  • Blood tests may show the fungus that causes valley fever.
  • A sample from your throat or the inside of your nose may be needed. You may need to cough mucus into a cup. A cotton swab may be used to get a sample from an open rash or wound. These are tested for the fungus that causes valley fever.
  • An x-ray may show signs of infection, such as swelling and fluid around your lungs.
  • A lung biopsy may be done to test for signs of a fungal infection. Lung tissue is removed and sent to a lab for tests.

How is valley fever treated?

Your symptoms usually go away on their own. It may take up to 2 months for your symptoms go away. You may need any of the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor’s order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Cough medicine may help soothe your throat and decrease your urge to cough.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Rest as directed. Slowly start to do more each day.
  • Drink liquids as directed to help prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier to increase air moisture in your home. This may make it easier for you to breathe and help decrease your cough.
  • Record the color and amount of sputum you cough up. Bring this record to your follow-up visits.

How can I prevent valley fever?

  • Cover your nose and mouth. Use masks or cloths to cover your nose and mouth while working in the soil.
  • Wash your hands after you handle plants and soil. Use soap and water every time. Rub your soapy hands together, lacing your fingers. Wash the front and back of your hands, and in between your fingers. Use the fingers of one hand to scrub under the fingernails of the other hand. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with warm, running water for several seconds. Then dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel.
    How to treat valley fever

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have severe chest pain.
  • You have trouble breathing or your breathing seems faster and more shallow than usual.
  • You are confused or sleepy.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your lips or nails turn blue.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You have a headache, a stiff neck, and a fever.

When should I call my doctor?

  • Your symptoms do not improve within 2 months.
  • You have night sweats for longer than 3 weeks.
  • You lose more than 10% of your weight.
  • You cannot work because of your symptoms.
  • Your lymph nodes are swollen.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

Learn more about Valley Fever

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

How to treat valley fever

  • 1. Aloe Vera Soothes The Rash.
  • 2. Essential Oils Are An Effective Cure.
  • 3. Flaxseeds Are Good For The Bones.
  • 4. Hot/Cold Compression Reduces Joint Pain.
  • 5. Chamomile Tea Treats Valley Fever Symptoms.
  • 6. Ginger Tea Is A Natural Valley Fever Treatment.
  • 7. Honey Cures The Signs Of Valley Fever.

Any person can be at risk of valley fever. The fungus causing this condition lives in dirt and travels through the air. Inhaling the contaminated air can lead to severe valley fever symptoms including joint pain, persistent cough, and fever. The condition seems familiar, but exactly what is valley fever and is there a natural treatment for it?

Also known as coccidioidomycosis, it’s a fungal infection caused by the Coccidioides fungi that multiplies in the soil and contaminates the air or dust you breathe. When you inhale the spores of the fungus, they start reproducing inside the body. A weaker immune system isn’t able to fight the fungus – leading to the fever. The disease isn’t contagious, unlike other fungal infections. However, the symptoms are discomforting.

  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle ache, stiffness, and pain in joints
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Red bumpy rashes on the upper body and legs
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath and cough
  • Swollen ankles, feet, and legs
  • Loss of appetite

1. Aloe Vera Soothes The Rash.

Aloe vera helps restrict the development of valley fever rash. So, apply some freshly squeezed gel for 15 minutes over the affected areas thrice daily for better treatment.

2. Essential Oils Are An Effective Cure.

An essential oil blend soothes the valley fever rash. Therefore, take 3 drops of geranium and rose essential oils and mix it in half a teaspoon of coconut oil. Apply on the rashes and soothe the condition.

3. Flaxseeds Are Good For The Bones.

The seeds contain Omega-3 fatty acids that help strengthen the muscles as well as bones. So, take a teaspoon of flaxseeds every day with a glass of water.

4. Hot/Cold Compression Reduces Joint Pain.

Hot/cold compression is an instant valley fever treatment. It relaxes the muscles and reduces the pain. Heat some water or add ice as per your choice. Soak a cloth in it. Drain out the excess water from the cloth. Keep it on the joints for 15 minutes.

5. Chamomile Tea Treats Valley Fever Symptoms.

A weak immune system leads to the development of the disease. So what is a sure shot valley fever treatment? Drink chamomile tea to strengthen the immunity. In a cup of hot water, add a chamomile tea bag. Cover the tea and steep it for 5 minutes. Drink twice daily.

6. Ginger Tea Is A Natural Valley Fever Treatment.

Ginger helps in decreasing inflammation in the body. Therefore, boil a teaspoon of ginger in a cup of water. Steep the tea for 5 minutes and then strain it. Drink twice every day to get rid of the fever.

7. Honey Cures The Signs Of Valley Fever.

Honey is antimicrobial. It is effective in reducing the valley fever symptoms. Mix a teaspoon of honey in a cup of lukewarm water and drink every day. But, make sure you do not give this to infants.

Note: Articles on Ayurvedum are solely for the purpose of sharing the goodness of Ayurveda and bringing awareness on natural and healthy living. Please do not substitute it for professional medical advice. Ingredients discussed can interfere with certain medications. So, before using anything to treat yourself, always consult an Ayurveda doctor or practitioner.

Do you have any suggestions for treating Valley Fever?

How to treat valley fever

Valley Fever is an infection – usually of the lungs – caused by a fungus, Coccidioides immitis, found in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It was discovered in the San Joaquin Valley of California and is also sometimes called “San Joaquin Valley fever,” “desert fever,” or “desert rheumatism.”

Valley Fever is very common here in Arizona. We see a lot of infections in June and July and then again in October and November. In California, the “season” for Valley Fever runs from June through November. The fungus lives in the soil, and those most susceptible to infection are farm and construction workers as well as archeologists and others whose jobs involve disturbing the soil and who may inhale the spores.

More than 60 percent of all cases are so mild that those infected never feel sick and never know they have Valley Fever. Those who feel bad enough to go to the doctor usually complain of fatigue, cough, chest pain, fever, rash, headache, and joint aches. Most of the time no specific treatment is needed, just plenty of rest. However, I do suggest eating one or two cloves of raw garlic daily. Garlic has antibiotic and antifungal properties that may make it useful in counteracting fungal infections such as Valley Fever. You can make raw garlic more palatable by chopping it fine and mixing it with food. Or cut a clove into chunks and swallow them whole like pills (remember, a clove is one of the segments of a head or bulb of garlic).

About five percent of cases of Valley Fever lead to pneumonia or other breathing problems that require treatment, typically with Diflucan (fluconazole), a strong prescription antifungal drug. Side effects of this medication can include nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, or rash. Be sure to tell your physician about any severe or unusual side effects. In rare cases, Diflucan can cause liver damage, and before taking it women should be sure to tell their doctor if they’re pregnant or think they might be. The drug can damage the fetus although potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks. In an even smaller percentage of cases of Valley Fever, the infection becomes generalized and potentially life-threatening, requiring more drastic treatment.

The best way to deal with Valley Fever would be a vaccine to prevent it. Researchers at the Valley Fever Center for Excellence here in Tucson (one of several such centers in the southwest and California) are working on a vaccine. Let’s hope they find one soon.

  • Medical Author: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) facts

  • Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) is a disease caused by a fungus, Coccidioides, which lives in the soil of relatively arid regions (southwest U.S.); its incidence is increasing.
  • People are infected by inhaling dust contaminated with Coccidioides; the fungus is not transmitted from person to person.
  • Although most people infected with Coccidioides have no symptoms, if symptoms develop, they usually occur in the lung and initially resemble the flu or pneumonia (cough, fever, malaise, sputum production, and shortness of breath).
  • Some people are more susceptible to infection (immunosuppressed people, those with HIV or cancer, and pregnant females) and may develop widespread disease.
  • Diagnosis is usually easy to accomplish, and several antifungal medications can treat the disease.
  • There is no vaccine available for valley fever (coccidioidomycosis).

Valley Fever Diagnosis

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is a method to analyze a short sequence of DNA (or RNA) even in samples containing only minute quantities of DNA or RNA. PCR is used to reproduce (amplify) selected sections of DNA or RNA. Previously, amplification of DNA involved cloning the segments of interest into vectors for expression in bacteria, and took weeks. But now, with PCR done in test tubes, it takes only a few hours. PCR is highly efficient in that untold numbers of copies can be made of the DNA.

What is valley fever (coccidioidomycosis)?

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Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) is a disease caused by fungi (Coccidioides immitis and C. posadasii species) that in about 50%-75% of normal (not immunocompromised) people causes either no symptoms or mild symptoms and those infected never seek medical care. When symptoms of this fungal infection are more pronounced, they usually present as lung problems (cough, shortness of breath, sputum production, fever, and chest pains). The disease can progress to chronic or progressive lung disease and may even become disseminated to the skin, lining tissue of the brain (meninges), skeleton, and other body areas. The disease can also infect many animal types (for example, dogs, cattle, otters, and monkeys). From 1998 to 2011, the U.S. incidence has increased about tenfold to about 22,000 diagnosed individuals per year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) although some researchers estimate the number as many as 15,000 per year.

Most microbiologists and infectious disease physicians prefer the name coccidioidomycosis because the word describes the disease as a specific fungal disease, and this term may replace valley fever in the future. This disease has several commonly used names (valley fever, San Joaquin Valley fever, California valley fever, acute valley fever, and desert fever). Other names get confused with valley fever (for example, rift or African valley fever).

People first noticed coccidioidomycosis in the 1890s in Argentina when tissue biopsies of people with the disease showed pathogens that resembled coccidia (protozoa). During 1896-1900, investigators learned that a fungus causes the disease, not protozoa, so the term “mycosis” was eventually added to “coccidia.” The valley fever cases are often noted to occur in outbreaks, usually when soil is disturbed and dust arises, and when groups of people visit an endemic region (such as San Joaquin Valley or Bakersfield [in Kern County], Calif., and Tucson, Ariz., or parts of southern New Mexico or west Texas) during late summer and early fall. The disease does not spread from person to person; it is acquired from the environment via contaminated soil and dust. About 150,000 individuals are estimated to become infected each year in the U.S. This may increase, since in Arizona, the number of infected individuals as of March 2018 was 2,461 — far more than the 1,360 during the same time in 2017.

How to treat valley fever

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What causes valley fever (coccidioidomycosis)?

Two species of fungi, Coccidioides immitis and Coccidioides posadasii, cause coccidioidomycosis. Both are dimorphic (having mycelial and spore phases when viewed microscopically) and almost always are acquired through the respiratory tract by inhalation. When viewed microscopically, the mycelial form found in the soil has arthroconidia (barrel-shaped asexual spores) attached to non-spore-forming rectangular mycelium cells, usually alternating in a line. Once someone inhales the arthroconidia, the fungus develops into 30-60 micron diameter structures called spherules that are filled with 3-5 micron diameter endospores. The large spherules then release the endospores that continue the infection; microscopic identification of these endospores in pus or tissue confirms the diagnosis.

Is valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) contagious?

Valley fever is not contagious person to person. People only become infected when they inhale arthroconidia (spores) of Coccidioides that settle in the lungs. Spores are easily dispersed and become airborne mixed with dust, especially on dusty, windy days and in areas where soil has been recently disturbed by construction or similar actions.

What are the risk factors for developing valley fever (coccidioidomycosis)?

People living in the endemic areas (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas) have been estimated to have a 1 in 33 chance of acquiring the disease every year (others have even higher risk, see below for Kern County, Calif.), so the chance increases (accumulates) the longer they reside in the area. However, even people simply passing through the area can get the disease. Males and pregnant females have a higher risk of getting the disease. People who do construction or farm work, especially the type that disturbs the soil, and any immunosuppressed person has an increased risk of developing valley fever (coccidioidomycosis). Poor air quality in the endemic areas also increases risk for the disease. Inmates (58 individuals) in California are suing the state (California Department of Corrections) because they allege they contracted the disease while serving prison time near the city of Avenal, Calif.

People at risk of getting the disease and its complications often have weakened immune systems.

How to treat valley fever

It is common for people visiting or relocating to the Phoenix area to be concerned about Valley Fever. While some contract Valley Fever, most people are not affected very severely, and many people never even know that they have it.

Still, it is essential to know about Valley Fever. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, in 2016 there were more than 6,000 reported cases of Valley Fever reported in Arizona.

About Valley Fever

Valley Fever is a non-contagious lung infection. A fungus becomes airborne when the wind transports dust around construction areas and agricultural areas. When spores are inhaled, Valley Fever can result. The medical name for Valley Fever is coccidioidomycosis.

In the U.S. it is prevalent in the Southwest where temperatures are high, and the soils are dry. Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah are primary locations, but there have been cases in other states as well.

It is estimated that about one-third of the people in the lower desert areas of Arizona have had Valley Fever at some point. Your chances of getting Valley Fever are about 1 out of 33, but the longer you live in the Desert Southwest, the higher your chances of infection. There are between 5,000 and 25,000 new cases of Valley Fever each year. You don’t have to live there to get it—people visiting or traveling through the area have been infected, too.

Dogs can get Valley Fever and might need long-term medication. Horses, cattle sheep, and other animals can also get Valley Fever.

Valley Fever Risk Factors

Anyone can contract Valley Fever. Once infected, however, certain groups seem to have more instances of it spreading to other parts of their bodies; as far as gender is concerned, men are more likely than women, and, when considering race, African Americans and Filipinos are more likely to have the disease spread. People with compromised immune systems are also at risk. People ages 60-79 make up the highest percentage of reported cases.

Construction workers, farm workers or others who spend time working in dirt and dust are most likely to get Valley Fever. You are also at higher risk if you are caught in dust storms, or if your recreation, such as dirt biking or off-roading, takes you to dusty areas. One thing you can do to minimize your risk of getting Valley Fever is to wear a mask if you have to be out in blowing dust. Staying indoors in a dust storm is also recommended. Valley Fever is not contagious.

Symptoms

It usually takes between one and four weeks to become symptomatic if you contract Valley Fever.

About two-thirds of the people who are infected never notice any symptoms, or experience mild symptoms and never seek treatment. Those who have sought treatment showed signs including fatigue, cough, chest pain, fever, rash, headache, and joint aches. Sometimes people develop red bumps on their skin.
In about 5 percent of the cases, nodules develop on the lungs which might look like lung cancer in a chest x-ray. A biopsy or surgery may be necessary to determine if the bulge is a result of Valley Fever. Another 5 percent of people develop what is referred to as a lung cavity. This is most common with older people, and more than half of the cavities disappear after a while without treatment. If the lung cavity ruptures, however, there may be chest pain and difficulty breathing. Surgery may be needed.

Treatment

Most people can fight off Valley Fever on their own without treatment. While it used to be thought that most people don’t get Valley Fever more than once, the current statistics indicate that relapses are possible and would need to be treated again. For those who seek treatment, anti-fungal drugs (not antibiotics) are used. Although these treatments are often helpful, the disease may persist and years of treatment may be required. Less than 2 percent of the people who get Valley Fever die from it.

Pulmonary specialists and many area family physicians and hospitals are very familiar with Valley Fever. Physicians in other parts of the country seldom see cases of Valley Fever and, therefore, might not recognize it. Make sure your doctor knows that you have been to the Southwest and emphasize that you want to be tested for Valley Fever if you have any symptoms.