What is Coccidioidomycosis?

Coccidioidomycosis, also known as Valley Fever, is a lung infection caused by fungi found in soil in many parts of the world, most commonly in the southwestern United States. It is caused by the inhalation of fungal spores, which then travel through the body and begin to reproduce in the lungs or other airways. Symptoms of the disease can be mild or severe, and may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue.


The symptoms of Coccidioidomycosis can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches

In more serious cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the body, leading to complications such as pneumonia, meningitis, or even bone and skin infections. Some people can develop chronic forms of the disease that require long-term treatment.


Coccidioidomycosis is usually diagnosed based on a patient's symptoms and a physical examination. A chest X-ray may be used to detect any signs of infection. A blood test, called an immunodiffusion assay, can also be used to confirm the diagnosis. If the infection has spread to other parts of the body, additional tests may be necessary to determine the extent of the spread.


Most healthy adults who develop symptoms of Coccidioidomycosis can be treated with antifungal medications. Mild cases may not require any treatment at all. However, people with more severe forms of the disease may require hospitalization and stronger medications, including intravenous antifungal drugs.


The best way to prevent Coccidioidomycosis is to avoid areas where the fungi that cause the infection grow. People who are traveling to or living in areas where the disease is common should wear protective clothing and take extra care to avoid inhaling dust, dirt, and other particles that may contain the fungal spores.