Pulmonary coccidioides

Pulmonary Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever)

Pulmonary coccidioidomycosis, also known as Valley Fever, is an infection caused by the Coccidioides fungus. This infection can affect the lungs and is primarily found in the southwestern United States and some parts of Mexico and Central and South America. It is estimated that approximately 150,000 people in the United States alone are affected with this infection each year.

When a person inhales fungal spores, usually through dust, they can become infected. The infection is not spread from person to person. Symptoms of valley fever usually develop within 1-3 weeks after being exposed and may include:

  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Joint aches
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

If left untreated, valley fever can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia, meningitis, and even death. In many cases, the infection can be treated with antifungal medications, but some people may need to take medications for several months or even longer. It is important to discuss any potential side effects of these medications with your doctor before beginning treatment.

People who are at higher risk for pulmonary coccidioidomycosis include those who live in endemic areas, those with weakened immune systems, and those who spend time outdoors in areas where the fungus is found. If you have any of these risk factors, it is important to discuss any symptoms you may have with your doctor.