Valley fever symptoms
Ronald Servi, MD, is a pulmonologist at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. For more information, talk with your doctor or call (602) 230-CARE.
Question: I am a winter visitor and am concerned I might contract Valley fever during my stay. What is Valley fever, what symptoms should I watch for, and how is the condition treated?
Answer: Valley fever is a respiratory infection caused by a fungus that grows well in Maricopa County’s climate. Typically, patients suffering from Valley fever will experience flu-like symptoms, particularly coughing and fatigue. Because its symptoms are so similar to other common viruses and will usually improve with time, Valley fever often goes undiagnosed. In fact, half of all patients who have Valley fever never feel poorly enough to visit a doctor.
For those patients whose symptoms aren’t improving after two weeks, a simple blood test is used to diagnose Valley fever. If the patient is not feeling better on his or her own, several treatment options are available. Medications such as fluconazole can be helpful in reducing the duration and severity of Valley fever. A physician can best determine what course of action is most appropriate, depending on the individual patient’s situation.
Fortunately, Valley fever is not contagious and rarely do patients experience complications from the illness, especially if they receive treatment when necessary. And while many patients do get better on their own, if coughing, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms do persist, I recommend consulting a physician to determine if Valley fever might be the cause.