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Coccidioidomycosis/ Valley Fever And Fatigue

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“Valley Fever” is caused by fungi called Coccidioides imminits and posadasii which are endemic to Southwestern USA and Northwestern Mexico 1. Most cases (97%) in the US are in California or Arizona. Rates of Coccidioidomycosis have been increasingly in recent years, with an increase in California from 4.3 to 11.6 per 100,000/year from 2001 and 2010.  

This fungus thrives in warm areas with low levels of rainfall. Exposure to dust (such as in dust storms, excavation, or construction work) increases risk of Coccidioidomycosis infections.

Coccidioidomycosis infections cause a wide range of health problems including intermittent fevers/chills/ night sweats, trouble breathing, coughing, wheezing, chest pain, headaches, joint pain, skin rash, and fatigue. Severity of Coccidioidomycosis ranges from mild/asymptomatic to life threatening. In about 3% of cases, the disease becomes systemic and enters the blood stream where it can invade many organs such as bones, joints, skin, the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Disease severity of Valley Fever ranges from mild and asymptomatic to life threatening.

One recent study of 36 patients with Valley Fever reported that most patients were experiencing severe fatigue, with fatigue levels significantly higher than in other disease populations such as multiple sclerosis 2 . Fatigue gradually improved after 24 weeks treatment in most patients. Proper diagnosis and treatment with anti-fungal drugs is critical to manage Valley Fever. Since fatigue is such a strong symptom in many Coccidioidomycosis patients, anyone with unexplained chronic fatigue who lives in areas such as Arizona or Southern California should probably be tested for Coccidioidomycosis. Proper nutrition is also critical for recovery for Valley Fever Patients.

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References / Sources

Stockamp NW, Thompson GR, 3rd. Coccidioidomycosis. Infect Dis Clin North Am 2016;30(1):229-46. 

Garrett AL, Chang YH, Ganley K, Blair JE. Uphill both ways: Fatigue and quality of life in valley fever. Med Mycol 2016;54(3):310-7.



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