MedWatch Today: Valley Fever on the Rise in the Central Valley

Med Watch Today

Valley fever is a fungal infection that attacks the lungs. The Fresno County Department of Public Health said cases here are on the rise.

Construction workers and farmers are most likely to get Valley fever, and doctors say sometimes it’s hard to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to the flu. The Central Valley is warm, dry, and sometimes windy, which Dr. Elham Rahmati with UCSF Fresno said the climate is a perfect breeding ground for cocci, a fungus, that causes Valley fever.

“In majority of cases, they are self limiting. Our immune system takes care of them,” said Rahmati.

Rahmati said Valley fever presents itself with flu like symptoms, like coughing, fevers, and headaches. But, if symptoms last longer than a month, Rahmati said you might want to be tested.

“In minority of cases, they can travel from your lungs into the blood system and they can settle into bones and even brain,” Rahmati stated.

The Fresno County Department of Public Health is trying to get the word out by educating more people about this infection so they can tested and treated right away.

Leticia Berber is a health educator for the Fresno County Department of Public Health. She said, “We are seeing more cases compared to other years, starting in 2013, those numbers weren’t in the thousands. Now, they are seeing those numbers in the thousands throughout Fresno County. Why? Because there is more education out in the community.”

Berber said those who work outside are more prone to getting this fungal infection than those who work inside.

“This is very specific to people who are working outside and are working in the farm lands, that are doing construction work. You don’t see it in people who work in the offices. You see it in those individuals,” ended Berber.

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