by Diana Kohnle
Coccidioidomycosis, commonly called valley fever, is a potentially serious lung infection.
Valley fever is caused by a fungal infection. The fungus that causes valley fever is found in the soil, most commonly in the southwestern US, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America. Though the fungus lives in the soil, it is transported through the air and into the lungs, where it infects people who breathe it in. When soil that contains the fungus is disturbed, spores are released into the air.
The disease cannot be transmitted from person to person.
People who are at increased risk of exposure to the fungus include:
Those at increased risk of getting valley fever after exposure include:
Most people have no symptoms of valley fever. If present symptoms may include:
The fungus can affect other parts of the body besides the lungs, and is called disseminated valley fever.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may ask about recent travel.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
To help reduce your chances of valley fever:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
About valley fever. Valley Fever Center for Excellence website. Available at
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Updated January 2015. Accessed December 11, 2017.
Ampel NM. New perspectives on coccidioidomycosis. Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2010;7(3):181-185.
Ampel NM, Giblin A, Mourani JP, Galgiani JN. Factors and outcomes associated with the decision to treat primary pulmonary coccidioidomycosis. Clin Infect Dis. 2009;48(2):172-178.
Coccidioidomycosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116164/Coccidioidomycosis . Updated November 22, 2017. Accessed December 11, 2017.
Fisher BT, Chiller TM, Prasad PA, et al. Hospitalizations for coccidioidomycosis at forty-one children's hospitals in the United States. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2010;29(3):243-247.
Hector RF, Rutherford GW, Tsang CA, et al. The public health impact of coccidioidomycosis in Arizona and California. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011;8(4):1150-1173.
Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) risk & prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/coccidioidomycosis/risk-prevention.html. Updated January 25, 2017. Accessed December 11, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 12/9/2015
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