Desert Tale

Number 4, Volume 2


Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever)


Today I attended a forum sponsored by Congressman David Schweikert for public awareness to a disease that my mother contracted years ago when she first arrived from Florida to Arizona. When she complained of a bad headache, bleeding through the nose, tiredness and muscle aches, I took her to a local physician, who immediately diagnosed this problem as “coccidioidomycosis,” commonly known as “Valley fever,” a fungus found in the soil of the Southwest region of the United States, Texas, New Mexico, and parts of California. Also found in parts of Mexico, and Central and South America. Lucky for her, the doctor recognized the symptoms, but many doctors are not even aware that this disease exists and it is often misdiagnosed.

The purpose of Congressman Schweikert’s forum was to tell us that help is coming. Not to despair if we get it, as most people living in Maricopa County, where we have 150 different types of infectious diseases, according to the Mayo Clinic, will succumb to this disease. Dr. John N. Galgiani, Director of the Valley Fever Center, and Dr. Janis E. Blair, from the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Mayo Clinic, answered questions from the public about issues and concerns about their illness.

Valley Fever can be diagnosed by a blood test, but soon available will be Valley Fever Diagnostic, www.DxNA.com, tel. 435-628-0324, who has a simple saliva test.

What are the symptoms of this disease? About 60% of people infected have only a mild or no symptoms. The rest have illness that may last for months or even years. The disease usually affects the lungs and can cause pneumonia. Common symptoms are: fatigue, fever, cough, headaches, rash, night sweats, weight loss, lack of appetite, and joint or muscle aches. If you have pneumonia, ask your doctor to test you for Valley Fever.

Who is likely to get a severe case of this disease? Dogs. If your dog has bleeding paws, coughing, and lethargic behaviour, tell the vet because there is a vaccine they can administer. However, it is expensive. Also, pregnant women, Filipinos, African Americans, and people whose bodies have trouble fighting off infections, such as people with Aids, cancer, diabetes or organ or bone marrow transplants. Talk to your doctor about antifungal drugs and other treatment options. I was told that Medicare will cover the cost.

Presently, there is no vaccine to prevent Valley Fever, but it is coming. Avoid activities that stir up airborne dirt, and blowing dust. This disease affects thousands of people in the Southwest. Medical researchers are working hard to develop a vaccine for Valley Fever; so don’t lose hope. Valley Fever is NOT contagious. It is not spread from person to person.

There is also relief through homeopathic medicine such as: smart silver, which helps kill the germs as they are released from bio-slime layers that coat blood vessels and mucous membranes; and OmniCleanse Comprehensive Homeopathic Detox Kit. For further information, please contact, Dr. Bruce H. Shelton, Diplomate and Fellow British Institute of Homeopathy, Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, telephone: 602-504-1000; email: shelton@drbruceshelton.com

Please support Valley Fever research and make a tax-free donation to: Valley Fever Center for Excellence; checks should be made payable to: The University of Arizona. 1656 E. Mabel Street, MRB Building, Room 124, P.O. Box 245215, Tucson, Az. 85724; telephone: 520-629-4777, fax: 520-626-4971; vfever@email.arizona.edu

For further information, please contact: Arizona Department of Health Services, Office of Infectious Disease Services, 150 N. 18th Avenue, Suite 140, Phoenix, Arizona, 85007-3237, telephone: 602-364-3676; fax: 602-364-3199.

Update:  June 26, 2014
The Valley Fever Congressional Task Force, was able to provide us with good news:  “...the spore that causes coccidioides, (Valley Fever) has been added to the list of pathogens under the Generating Incentives Now (GAIN) Act.... The FDA’s decision will encourage the development of an effective treatment and vaccine for this disease.”
US Congressman David Schweikert

Alinka Zyrmont