California health officer warns public about Valley Fever

California health officer warns public about Valley Fever. | Courtesy of
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith recently warned residents of California to be cautious of Valley Fever, which is a potentially fatal infectious disease.

Valley Fever is also called coccidioidomycosis or cocci. A fungus spore causes the virus. The fungus is found in a specific kind of soil located in certain areas of South America, Central America and the Southwest U.S.

California has dubbed August as Valley Fever Awareness Month. Every year, the fever infects countless people throughout the state. The highest rates are found in California’s southern Central Valley: Madera, Fresno, Kings, Kern, Tulare and Merced counties. San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties have also reported high rates of cases.

When people breathe in the spores or dust containing the spores, they contract the illness. This happens more frequently when the soil is disturbed or when it is windy. Many people do not show symptoms, and those who do display symptoms assume that they have the flu. Some Valley Fever cases advance into pneumonia or infections of the joints, brain, bones, organs or skin.

“Valley Fever is an ongoing concern in California and other areas of the Southwest United States,” Smith said. “It is important for people living in Valley Fever areas to take steps to avoid breathing in dusty air, such as staying indoors when it is windy.”

California Department of Public Health is located in Sacramento.

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California Department of Public Health Sacramento, CA - 95899

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