AP NEWS

Valley fever cases doubled in Mohave County over 2-year period

May 11, 2019

The number of valley fever cases in Mohave County has doubled over the last two years.

Mohave County health officials say there were 87 cases in 2018, compared to just 44 in 2016 and 68 in 2017.

“We don’t know if there are actually more cases each year, or if doctors got better at testing and reporting,” said Anna Scherzer, epidemiologist at the Mohave County Department of Public Health. She points that Valley Fever is believed to be underreported. “But we had 16 reported cases within last 3 months.”

Comparatively, Arizona had a total of 6,885 cases in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s up from a statewide total of 6,101 cases in 2016, but down nearly two-thirds down from 2011′s peak of 16,467 cases.

Valley Fever is an infection in the lungs caused by the fungus coccidioides spp., which grows in soils in areas of low rainfall, high summer temperatures and moderate winter temperatures – that means throughout Arizona. In fact, according to the Valley Fever Center for Excellence, two-thirds of all U.S. Valley Fever infections are contracted in the state.

Anyone who lives, visits, or travels through areas where the fungus grows in the soil may acquire Valley Fever.

Sixty percent of people have no symptoms or only very mild flu-like symptoms and do not see a doctor. When symptoms are present, the most common are fatigue, cough, fever, profuse sweating at night, loss of appetite, chest pain, generalized muscle and joint aches particularly of the ankles and knees.

Valley Fever is acquired by inhaling one or more airborne spores of the fungus coccidioides spp. The spores are carried in dust particles from the soil by the wind when the desert soil is disturbed.

There is no cure for Valley Fever. Researchers in the U.S. are working on the development of a prophylactic vaccine. There is a drug that shows promise of a cure in the future, but it remains in the early phases of testing.