Valley Fever Connections
|Valley Fever Connections delivers medical professionals and individuals the latest on Valley Fever from the original sources, keeping you better informed. Discover more information, breaking news, articles, Valley Fever symptoms and Valley Fever treatments. Valley Fever is also known as coccidioidomycosis, fungal infection, coccidiomycosis, coccidioides immitis, c immitis, desert rheumatism.
Valley Fever is found in the Southwest; Arizona, California, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah. Travelers and those who receive items delivered from the southwest are exposed. As the name Valley Fever implies, the fungus is found only in certain regions. In the United States, Valley Fever is found in the desert Southwest, including California's San Joaquin valley. Coccidiomycosis also grows in parts of Central and South America.
The Valley Fever fungus lives in the soil and releases its spores into the air. Outbreaks occur during weather changes, dust storms and earthquakes, all of which increase the amount of Valley Fever spores dispersed into the air. People become infected with Valley Fever by inhaling the spores.
Pro Golfer Greg Kraft still fights Valley Fever
by Ed Hardin -- Greg Kraft fought his way onto the leaderboard Friday afternoon at the Wyndham Championship and will go into the weekend with his head and his heart and most of his lungs.
That he's back out here is a testament to his head and heart. That he only has part of one of his lungs is a testament to something else -- either the wonders of modern medicine or the lack thereof.
"They call it Valley Fever," said the 43-year-old. "It's a fungus. I'd never heard of it. I know all about it now."
"Two weeks later I started showing signs of it at the Honda," he said. "Had to withdraw after five holes. Had to withdraw from Bay Hill after the first day. Players Championship, I could hardly walk.
"I ended up losing about 30 pounds and it took them five months to really figure it out, because when you have a fungal infection there's no bacteria, so when they take your blood and they run it, check on you, nothing shows."
Doctors suggested he might have a virus. Then they thought it might be mono.
"Five months later, when they finally did a CAT scan on my body for the third time, they said I had cancer," Kraft said. "I lived with that for about seven days."
Surgery revealed he didn't have cancer. He was put on antifungal treatments, which Kraft said was like chemotherapy, then he waited nine months only to see the fungus return.
"They put me on medicine again for six months," he said. "Three months into it, I started getting worse and they finally just went in and said, 'We've got to remove part of your lung.' So they took that out and I had to be back on that medicine for three more months just in case."
Kraft began to fight his way back in 2006, playing in 26 PGA Tour events with an exemption based on the number of cuts he'd made in his career. That's the last of 34 exemption categories. In other words, he's hanging by a thread. He now plays on the Nationwide Tour and the rare PGA event to which he can gain entry. That he's playing at all says something about his heart and soul.
Kraft talks matter-of-factly about what he went through. He looks you in the eye and tells you the statistics, about the attempts to find cures and vaccines for something almost no one knows about. He knows the various stages of it, the chances of recovery and the effects it has on a person's health, his mind, his golf game. Kraft talks easily about them all, pantomiming putts on slow greens and hard swings from sandy divots.
He smiles a lot and points to his chest a lot, noting where one lung remains strong and the other defiant after a disease he knows more about than anyone in golf.
There's still a lot he doesn't know, but Kraft knows he'll play golf again today and he'll play again Sunday. And if it all works out, he'll be playing for a long time, no matter which tour, which event or which city.
Even the one in Tucson, right?
"Uh, no," Kraft said.
He wasn't smiling.
Governor proposes Valley Fever fund
gvnews.com by Regina Ford: Gov. Janet Napolitano’s proposed executive budget for fiscal years 2008-09 includes a one-time increase of $1.8 million for Valley Fever research with some of that earmarked for a drug that just may be a potential cure for the fungal disease.
“Of this, $1.5 million would be used to cover a portion of the funding necessary for the first stage of clinical trials for nikkomycin Z,” said John N. Galgiani, M.D., director of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the Southern Arizona VA Heath Care System and University of Arizona.
“Of course this won’t happen unless the Legislature agrees to what the governor has proposed,” Galgiani added. “It might be helpful if your readers let their elected officials know what they think.” Contact your elected officals - More Info
According to Galgiani, there are currently only four drugs on the market to treat Valley Fever, but none cure the patient.
“Nikkomycin Z has been proven to cure mice of Valley Fever,” he said. “The remaining $300,000 would be used for the development of a diagnostic test to distinguish Valley Fever from other causes of community-acquired pneumonia.”
Rarely diagnosed The University of Arizona estimates that Valley Fever causes one in three cases of CAP but it is rarely tested for or diagnosed.
“Instead, physicians treat the Valley Fever as CAP, uselessly prescribing antibiotics,” Galgiani said. “A reliable diagnostic test would improve the clinician’s ability to rapidly diagnose Valley Fever and also limit inappropriate treatment.”
Galgiani said that current treatments for Valley Fever do not always work and when they do, they mainly assist the immune system in controlling infections.
“None are curative,” he added. “The Valley Fever Center for Excellence has become the sponsor of nikkomycin Z because pharmaceutical companies have been unwilling to do it since Valley Fever in an ‘orphan’ disease and the market is relatively small.”
Partial development funds are being obtained from the National Institutes of Health, the Federal Drug Administration and from a foundation donation.
Valley fever reaches epidemic level
According to health officials, Valley Fever is at epidemic levels in Arizona, afflicting 56% more people last year than in 2005.
Cases were already breaking records last May.
A study at that time showed that one-in-every-three Arizonans diagnosed with pneumonia actually have Valley Fever.
Last June, Governor Janet Napolitano freed up $50,000 to fight the valley fever outbreak, by educating doctors.
"When they seek medical attention, we think the doctors look for other diagnosis to account for their symptoms rather than do the tests that are needed to make the diagnosis for valley fever," said Dr. John Galgiani with the Veteran's Hospital.
Fortunately, we have the Valley Fever Center for Excellence right here in Tucson.
Click Here for Valley Fever Center for Excellence
State health money goes toward combating valley fever
KVOA.com, Gov. Janet Napolitano has released $50,000 in health crisis funds to combat an outbreak of valley fever in Arizona. The money will be used to train and educate doctors to diagnose and treat the fungal lung disease, which can cause prolonged illness that sometimes proves fatal. The disease is caused by a fungus that lives in the soil and attacks the lungs when inhaled.
"This is a sign of recognition valley fever is a disease that matters in Arizona," said Dr. Eskild Petersen, an infectious-disease specialist at University Medical Center. "This puts valley fever on the map, with official recognition of its impact here."
Another $75,000 has been designated to fight the rising number of cases of tick-borne Rocky Mountain spotted fever, now plaguing American Indian reservations in northern Arizona.
This year, Arizona health officials are predicting an all-time high in reported valley fever cases _ possibly reaching 4,000 _ which occur mainly in Pima, Maricopa and Pinal counties. Case counts have been rising steadily throughout the 1990s, but spiked dramatically in recent months, nearly tripling the average count.
Valley fever often causes only mild flulike symptoms, but also can trigger prolonged pneumonia with severe fatigue. If the disease spreads beyond the lungs to other organs, it can cause disability and death.
Money allocated to fight fevers
Arizona Daily Star, AZ - In an effort to combat the ongoing outbreak of valley fever in Arizona — now affecting hundreds of Tucsonans — Gov. ...
Valley Fever numbers increasing
The Associated Press - Arizona has had more than 1,000 cases of valley fever in the first two months of 2006, health officials say.
Usually, the state averages only about 2,700 cases per year.
There were 640 cases of valley fever this February - more than triple the five-year February average.
"We're kind of looking at this now as 'the year' for valley fever," state epidemiologist David Engelthaler said. "Over the past couple of months, it has really been the most dramatic increase that we've ever documented."
Engelthaler said both 2004 and 2005 had above-average numbers of cases of the infection, which could indicate a multi-season outbreak.
Valley fever is caused by a fungus in desert soil. When the soil is disturbed, the fungus releases spores that can lead to infection when inhaled.
Health officials can attribute some of the cases to growth in the state, Engelthaler said.
Construction stirs up spore-filled dust, while more and more people never before exposed to valley fever, found mostly in Arizona and California, are moving to the desert. Maricopa and Pima counties, with their population centers, are hot spots for the infection.
A very rainy start to 2005, followed by a record dry spell that extended into this year "probably has played a major factor in this dramatic increase," Engelthaler said.
Also contributing to the increase in reported cases is that health professionals are becoming more adept at identifying valley fever.
Research activity in the state focuses on identifying infection risk factors, determining the cause of the recent increase in cases and developing a preventive vaccine, Engelthaler said.
Valley Fever Cases Prompt Health Warning
SALINAS, Calif. -- A public health warning has been issued for a potentially deadly illness that's on the rise in Monterey County.
County health officials said they're seeing an alarming number of cases of valley fever, also known as cocci. The illness is a fungal infection that affects the lungs.
Officials said during all of last year, there were 22 cases of valley fever reported in Monterey County. Less than two months into this year, there have already been more than a dozen cases reported.
Valley fever is an airborne illness that is caused by exposure to a fungus that lives in the soil. Those who work outdoors near soil are most prone to getting the infection.
The infection causes flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, headache and fatigue.
Health officials said they're concerned because the disease is not common to the area,and if the symptoms are not treated properly, the problem could get worse.
"We're seeing a lot of people showing up to the doctor's office after having a cough for two to three weeks and have taken multiple cases of antibiotics and not gotten better," Monterey County Health Department spokeswoman Linda Velasquez said.
If untreated, valley fever can turn into severe pneumonia or pulmonary disease.
Officials are in the process of talking to those affected to see if there is a common thread.
Doctors said valley fever can only be treated with fungus-killing medicines.
Anyone who's had a cough for more than two weeks is encouraged to have their doctor check for signs of valley fever.
The Arizona Daily Star newspaper in Tucson reported last month that cases of valley fever are spiking across the state, with a record 4,000 reported cases possible by the year's end.
But a study says the true count could reach 30,000 because many cases of pneumonia are valley fever in disguise, the Daily Star said.