|Coccidioidomycosis is a soil dwelling fungi which is especially common in desert areas such as southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Coccidioidomycosis can infect the lung and sometimes spread to other organs such as the brain.|
Coccidioidomycosis infections can range from a mild febrile illness to chronic infections to death. Coccidioidomycosis infections are also known as “Valley Fever”.
Coccidioidomycosis is a soil fungi, and exposure to dust is associated with higher risk of Coccidioidomycosis infections. Outbreaks of Coccidioidomycosis have been associated with windstorms, earthquakes, military training exercises, hunting trips, and archaeological expeditions.
A case series was recently presented of 10 film crew and actors who developed either confirmed (5 cases) or probable (5 cases) Coccdioidomycosis infections following outdoor filming in California. Filming was done in area that underwent soil disruptive work such as digging and grading just prior to the filming. The filming area was also near a dusty mining operation. Five of the affected workers reported dusty conditions during the filming. Five of the cases required emergency room treatment and two of the cases were hospitalized for 2 or 28 days.
People working on dusty jobs (such as agriculture or construction) should wear respiratory protection such as particulate respirators or dust masks to reduce risk of Coccidioidomycosis infection. Planting drought-resistant vegetation can reduce airborne dust in many areas. Wetting soil with water prior to digging operations can also reduce airborne dust. Persons living/working in arid areas who develop fever and cough should receive immediate medical attention for diagnosis and treatment of possible Coccidioidomycosis infections.
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