Valley fever is a type of fungal infection. Coccidioides is the fungus that causes this condition. Common presentation is of fever, cough and tiredness. The common habitat of this fungus is soil. Two species of this organism causes valley fever.
Symptoms depends upon the stage type of coccidioidomycosis and are as follows
- Acute coccidioidomycosis also known as valley fever presents as fever, cough, fatigue, problematic breathing, headache, chills, night sweats, joint pain and muscle soars, red spots on lower leg and sometimes on chest, arm and back. It is the initial mild form of coccidioidomycosis.
- Chronic coccidioidomycosis is chronic form of pneumonia which resulted as the result of unresolved acute infection. It presents as low grade fever, weight loss, cough, chest pain, blood-tinged sputum, nodules in the lungs.
- Disseminated coccidioidomycosis: it is an infrequent form but most serious. This occurs when infection spreads from lungs to other parts of the body. It presents as nodules, ulcers, skin lesions, painful lesions in skull, spine and other bones, swollen and painful knee and ankle joints, meningitis.
Valley fever result after inhalation of spores in the atmosphere which come there from the soil which is the major habitat of coccidioides. Coccidioides immitis or Coccidioides posadasii are the two species that results in coccidioidomycosis. Once the spores reaches to lungs it resulted in the embedding of spores and starting of cycle.
Complications of this condition are:
- Severe pneumonia
- Ruptured lung nodules
- Disseminated disease
Diagnosis of this condition depends upon detailed medical history and complete general physical examination of patient. Some other tests and investigations include:
- Sputum smear and culture
- Blood test
- CT scan, MRI and chest X-rays
Treatment options include:
- Bed rest and fluid intake is firstly needed in initial stages.
- Antifungal medications are prescribed like fluconazole (Diflucan) or itraconazole (Sporanox, Onmel, Tolsura).