Valley Fever: what it is, symptoms, transmission and treatment

Valley fever, also known as Coccidioidomycosis, is an infectious disease that is most often caused by the fungusCoccidioides immitis.

This disease is common in people who tend to mess with the earth, for example, because the fungus spores are present in the soil and can spread through the air, reaching other people.

Inhaling spores can lead to simple symptoms, such as fever and chills, this stage of the disease being called acute valley fever. However, if the symptoms do not improve over time, there may be an evolution to the most severe form of the disease, known as valley fever or disseminated coccidioidomycosis, in which the fungus is not restricted only to the lung, but can reach other organs and cause symptoms. more serious.

Normally, valley fever does not require specific treatment, as its symptoms improve over time, with only rest and plenty of fluids being recommended. However, in the most severe cases, the use of antifungals may be recommended by the doctor, which are generally used for a period of 6 to 12 months.

Valley fever symptoms

The initial symptoms of valley fever are not very specific and can appear between 1 and 3 weeks after the onset of infection. Normally the symptoms of coccidioidomycosis are mild and do not require treatment, which can be:

  • Fever;
  • Chest pain;
  • Chills;
  • Cough, which may or may not come with blood;
  • Headache;
  • Rashes, which usually appear on the legs, but can also appear on other areas of the body.

Usually the symptoms of acute valley fever resolve over time, but when it does not, there is progression to the chronic form of the disease, in which the symptoms can be a little debilitating and can be:

  • Low fever;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Weight loss;
  • Weakness;
  • Chest pain;
  • Formation of nodules in the lung.

Disseminated coccidioidomycosis is the most serious form of the disease and occurs when the fungus reaches other organs, such as bones, liver, spleen, kidneys and brain, for example, causing specific symptoms, such as the formation of nodules and ulcers and meningitis, for example. It is important that the symptoms of this form of the disease are identified as soon as possible so that treatment can be started.

How transmission occurs

The fungus can infect people through its spores, which are easily inhaled by people, since they can be easily spread through the air, since they are light. In addition, people who are in direct contact with soil or frequent construction environments are more likely to inhale the fungus spores.

The diagnosis of valley fever is made by chest X-ray, to assess any pulmonary impairment that the fungus may cause, in addition to laboratory tests such as blood count and sputum analysis in order to verify the presence of the fungus. See how the sputum test is done.

How the treatment is done

Since the initial symptoms of valley fever are mild and usually improve over time, rest and drinking plenty of fluids are recommended. However, if symptoms worsen and, consequently, the most severe forms of the disease occur (chronic and widespread), the use of antifungal drugs such as Fluconazole, Itraconazole or Amphotericin B may be indicated by the doctor according to the medical recommendation.