Valley Fever - Get the Facts from Phoenix Children's Hospital
Valley Fever is an infection in the lungs caused by a fungus (Coccidioidomycosis, or Cocci) found in desert soil. When it’s windy, there’s a lot of construction around or if you participate in activities in the desert such as biking or riding ATVs, the spores of the fungus in the soil become airborne and can get in your lungs.
Symptoms from Valley Fever can start within 7 - 28 days after exposure, so if you were exposed to the spores in the recent dust storms, symptoms may be appearing now. The peak months for Valley Fever in Arizona are from June - Aug. and Oct. - Nov.
People and animals can get Valley Fever but it’s not contagious between people, or people and animals. The only way to get Valley Fever is to inhale the fungus spores.
Symptoms of Valley Fever
Valley Fever has symptoms like the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen joints
- Hives or a red spotted rash
When to seek care
Severe cases of Valley Fever are rare. Most of the time, adults and children with Valley Fever do not need treatment and may not even know they had it.
However, children with compromised immune systems may not be able to fight off Valley Fever as well as a healthy child.
If a child’s symptoms persist longer than 7-10 days and/or restrict normal activities, seek medical attention from a pediatric pulmonologist.
Testing for Valley Fever
There are a couple of different ways to confirm Valley Fever.
- Blood tests check for antibodies to the fungus, which means that cocci is present. But these tests sometimes give a false negative.
- A chest x-ray can show a nodule or calcification where the fungus attached to the lungs.
If treatment for a virus with similar symptoms was not successful, testing for Valley Fever may be suggested.
Treatment for Valley Fever
Valley Fever usually goes away without treatment. If symptoms persist or get worse, an anti-fungal medication may be prescribed. A patient could be on this medication for at least a month.
Prevention of Valley Fever
There is no vaccine for Valley Fever, so the only prevention is to avoid blowing dust and soil.
Request an appointment
If you’re concerned that your child has Valley Fever and needs to see a pediatric specialist, please refer to our pulmonology physicians to schedule an appointment, or request a referral from your pediatrician.
If you are a physician and would like to speak with our doctors for more information, please use our One Call Physician Assistance Line: (602) 546-DOCS (3627)