Coccidiomycosis

Coccidiomycosis

Dr. Kennedy
Coccidiomycosis is a disease due to a fungus called
Coccidioides immitis. About 40% of people infected with this fungus
develop symptoms. Most often they have an influenza-like illness with fever,
cough, headaches, rash, and muscle pains. Of those people with symptoms,
8% have severe lung disease requiring hospitalization and 7% develop disseminated
infection. Groups at high risk from the fungus include
African-Americans and Asians, pregnant women in the third trimester, smokers,
the elderly, diabetics and people with an impaired immune system. The fungus
can infect the retina and cause blindness. The disease is also known by a number
of other names including desert fever, Posadas disease, San Joaquin
fever
, San Joaquin Valley disease, San Joaquin Valley fever,
and valley fever. (Oh, and by the way, it is endemic in the San Joaquin
Valley of California.) The fungus is in the soil in semiarid areas (primarily
in the “lower Sonoran life zone”). The disease is endemic (constantly
present) in the southwestern U.S. and parts of Mexico and South America. Inhalation
of airborne spores after disturbance of soil by people or natural disasters
(such as wind storms and earthquakes) exposes people (as for example, construction
or agricultural workers and archeologists) to the dust containing the spores.
A mask helps but does not provide complete protection against the fungus.

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