Dust Storm Weather 6/6/06 A dust storm rolls into the Valley of the Sun Tuesday evening. The Arizona Center, St. Mary’s Basilica and Chase Ballpark are in the foreground in downtown Phoenix, AZ. Photo by Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic

Valley Fever Awareness Week is here! Did you know that valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) is one of the most commonly reported infectious diseases in Arizona and people across the state are affected year-round? In 2017, there were 6,885 reported cases, 725 hospitalizations with charges totaling $50.6 million, and 48 deaths attributable to valley fever. In addition, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) saw a substantial increase in reported cases of valley fever from October 2017–March 2018.

ADHS partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct an analysis on possible reasons for this increase, which was published in the November 9, 2018 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Reported cases peaked in December (1,197), which marked the highest monthly incidence rate (17.2/100,000 population) in the last five years. Reasons for the increase are uncertain, but may be due to weather and environmental factors such as precipitation and soil conditions.

There are many unknowns about valley fever, but we do know that people who know about valley fever before seeking healthcare are more likely to be diagnosed earlier than those who didn’t know about the disease. That is why it’s important to know the symptoms of valley fever (cough, fever, exhaustion) and ask your doctor to test you if you think you have valley fever. For more information, please visit valleyfeverarizona.org.