Cases of mystery disease increasing in California
A potentially deadly illness found in the soil and dusty winds of California’s Central Valley is on the rise, state health officials say.
Documented cases of Valley Fever rose 11 percent in 2018 — a preliminary total of 7,886 cases compared to 7,090 cases for the same period in 2017, according to the California Department of Public Health. Health officials said final data for 2018 will be available in March.
Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis) is an illness caused by a fungus found in the soil and dirt in the Central Valley. The fungus thrives in areas of low rainfall, high summer temperatures and moderate winter temperatures. The spores are carried by the wind in dust particles when the desert soil is disturbed.
Simply passing through an area with Valley Fever and breathing in a small number of spores can lead to an infection of the lungs with flu-like symptoms. About half of the infections produce no symptoms, but in a few cases, the infection can spread from the lungs to the brain, bones, skin or eyes, causing blindness, skin abscesses, lung failure and, occasionally, death.