In Arizona and nearby areas in the Southwest, there’s a strong likelihood that a person who develops a fungal infection is facing Valley fever. After all, roughly two-thirds of the nation’s Valley fever cases are diagnosed in Arizona. There have been more than 7,000 cases diagnosed in our state this year.
However, there are many different types of fungal diseases in our state and across the country, including aspergillosis, ringworm, candidiasis, and histoplasmosis. These fungal diseases can range from mild to life-threatening and can cause many forms of illness, including asthma, pneumonia, bloodstream infections, nail, skin, and eye infections, and meningitis.
During Fungal Disease Awareness Week, it’s important for those at greatest risk to be aware of the threat. This group includes those with weakened immune systems, cancer patients, people living with HIV, and hospitalized patients.
Fungi often enter the body through cuts, wounds, and burns. Valley fever, though, is inhaled from spores found in desert dust. While most people have mild or no symptoms, others often experience fatigue, cough, fever, chest pain, loss of appetite, or night sweats. If you think you might have Valley fever, ask your doctor to test you for it.
To increase awareness of this disease, ADHS for the fifth consecutive year is inviting Arizonans 18 years and younger to take part in our annual Valley Fever Awareness Poster Contest. Just create a poster to educate the public about Valley fever no later than Nov. 17. Be sure your poster includes some or all of the following important messages:
- Know the signs and symptoms of Valley fever, keeping in mind that Valley fever and COVID-19 can have similar symptoms (e.g., cough, fever, exhaustion).
- Ask your doctor to test if you think you have Valley fever.
- Stay out of blowing dust.
- Wet the ground before disturbing soil.
- Bear in mind that anyone can get Valley fever including dogs and other pets.