Category Archives: Arizona [AZ]

Valley Fever in Arizona, California, Texas, Mexico, Central and South America

Geographic_Distribution_of_Coccidioidomycosis_02
Valley Fever distribution-see green areas on map|Wikipedia
Called “The Devil in the Dust” in the April, 2012, issue of St. Joseph’s Magazine, Valley Fever is caused by the coccidioides fungi species that grows in the soil of Arizona and other dry desert areas of the southwestern United States, including central California, southern Utah, Nevada, and Western Texas around El Paso. Valley Fever also occurs in the Pacific costal region of Mexico and Central and South America.

Allergy Climates first brought you an item submitted by one of our readers about Arizona Valley Fever in our June 6, 2007, post. Recently, when a reader commented about Valley Fever here at Allergy Climates, I was reminded that we are long overdue for an update. Progress has been made in research of the disease in the past five years, yet it continues to spread in the affected areas when soil carrying Valley Fever spores, also called arthroconidia, are dispersed into the air by farming, construction, and wind storms, then breathed into the lungs.

Valley Fever spores
Valley Fever (arthroconidia) spores|courtesy Wikipedia

Symptoms may be so slight the infection is only discovered by a later positive skin or blood test, or nodules on the lungs, according to a Mayo Clinic article which reads, “Although the nodules typically don’t cause problems, they can look like tumors on X-ray.” According to this article, symptoms resemble those of the flu, sometimes accompanied by a rash, and can become chronic with low-grade fever, weight loss, cough, chest pain, and, as previously mentined, lung nodules. In its most serious form, the infection disseminates (spreads) to the skin (nodules and ulcers), bones, joints, and brain. Filipinos, Hispanics, blacks, Native Americans, and Asians, along with pregnant women, diabetics, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop the serious forms of the disease according to the Mayo Clinic article.

The April, 2012, issue of St. Joseph’s Magazine reports that “approximately one third of those exposed to the spore will contract valley fever.” According to this report, the disease kills 35-45 people per year in Arizona alone, and can leave people disabled for life. This issue features the new Valley Fever Center on the campus of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. The new Center is directed by John Galgiani, M.D., who also founded The Valley Fever Center for Excellence in Tucson in 1996. The April issue also includes pictures of recent Arizona dust storms, as well as current information about Arizona’s Valley Fever.

According to the May 1, 2007, issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, the condition which would later be known as Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis) was first discovered by a medical student in Buenos Aires in 1892. The patient was an Argentinian soldier who had been experiencing worsening skin lesions for about three years. Soon afterward, an immigrant from the Azores who was working in agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley developed similar symptoms. He was taken to a hospital in San Francisco where he was found to have Valley Fever. According to a Tutorial for Primary Care Professionals prepared by the Valley Fever Center for Excellence in Tucson, by 1935, this infection was common in the San Joaquin Valley, where it got its namem “Valley Fever.” By the 1940’s Valley Fever, also known as Cocci, Desert Rheumatism, and San Joaquin Fever, was well-known in southern Arizona where it remains a serious threat today.

The California Department of Public Health reports that half of the estimated 150,000 Coccidioides infections that occur each year in the United States do not produce symptoms. The CDPH says that there is currently no vaccine, but efforts to develop a vaccine are ongoing. According to The CDPH, “Those exposed to dust during their jobs or outside activities in these areas should consider respiratory protection, such as a mask, during such activities.”

A Phoenix Business Journal report published October 4, 2011, states “Of the 150,000 new Valley fever infections each year, two-thirds affect Arizonans — the majority of them in Maricopa County…. And the numbers are increasing.”

Early fall allergies in your area

What are common allergies for this time of year? My husband and I have been sneezing last few days. – submitted by Margaret, Sedona, AZ

Note from Lois (AllergyNurse): Ragweed, of course, tops the list as the #1 fall allegren worldwide. Mold from rotting leaves and hay, along with grass pollen still haning on from summer in some areas, stir the mix. Fall adds a special punch of tree pollen to the potpourri, and certain foods trigger fall allergies (see my August 6, 2010, post).

Besides ragweed, what is the most prominent fall allergen in your area right now?
Lois

Allergies in Harford county, is the Southwest better?

I live in Harford County, in Northern Maryland, and the allergies here are awful. Mold, dust mites, grass and tree pollen make for a year-round allergy season.I’m thinking of moving to the southwest. I have visited New Mexico and Arizona during their allergy seasons and had no problems with breathing at all – and I was outside camping most of the time.. I’ve read that these states have their “own” allergy problems, but I did not encounter them where I was camping. I realize, however, that my experience was just a few weeks at a time, so i don’t know the whole story about allergies in the SW.

Could anyone here share their experiences or advise me where to go for more information? – Roy, Maryland

Allergies in Eugene Oregon, is SE California or Arizona better?

Which is good to keep me health ? I am live Eugene, Oregon and I have been sick everyday cause of allergy. I am take allergy shot both my arms same day every 3 week’s. But not help cause I am worse more allergy and hurt my headache & my face.

I am allergy cause of maple trees and grass, smoke, dust, mites and any other unknow. I want to know which state’s is good to keep me health stay away allergy. I am looking for moving to other state from Oregon. What about South – East California or Arizona or which is good to me moving ? — Patsy, Oregon

Allergies in Wisconsin: Is there a better climate? Maybe Arizona?

I need dry heat and no humidity or very low humidity. Where can you suggest. I am in Wisconsin now and I also have horrible allergies. To ragweed, grass, trees, molds and dustmites, cats etc. I was thinking of Scottsdale AZ. Do you know of a few climates that might work of me and that I could visit to check them out? I would really appreciate it. — Patricia, Wisconsin

Allergies in Ohio, Memphis, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada

We need to move from Ohio. I am allergic to dust mites, trees that are grown in Ohio and the Midwest, and grass. My wife is allergic to molds. I can not even take my 5 year old son outside without getting Bhronchitis this year. We are looking at moving to either Arizonia, Southern California, Colorado or Nevada. Which place would be best? I lived in NW Ohio and Central Ohio except for 5 years in Memphis. My allergies have always been bad in Ohio. My allergies were a little better in Memphis. — Rick, Ohio

Arizona valley fever fungus, Boston, San Diego

Born and raised in Boston with little allergy problems as a kid. After college I moved to Arizona and have been here for 10years. Allergies began after 2yrs and have gotten worse each year. Recently I was diagnosed with asthma after 2 months of serious breathing issues. Docs are telling me to move to San Diego or Orange County Ca. for relief. Polluted dry air, pollen, and year round construction have made Az a tough place to live for allergy sufferers. Also we now have to deal with valley fever which is a fungus that comes from the ground soil. Looking forward to moving sometime before the end of the year. Arizona is beautiful and I would stay if asthma wasn’t the serious problem its become for me. Good luck to anyone who wants to take a chance here. You may find relief at first but it will be short lived. — Kevin, Arizona

Allergy relief in Arizona, but back to Oahu, Hawaii?

Looking for insight, and a little bit of hope. I grew up on Oahu and when I was about 7 I started experiencing allergic reactions. I developed asthma and everything went downhill from there. First I developed really bad bronchitis and this turned into pneumonia. We moved to Yuma, AZ when I was nine…a little extreme I think, but I’ve lived all over Arizona, including mountainous and forested Flagstaff, and have had very little if any problems.

Arizona can be beautiful, but I’m having difficulties really loving the desert region. I really miss the ocean and wetter climates. I tried Long Island, NY but developed two really bad cases of bronchitis, one after another, during the Fall.

Well, I’m now 25, engaged, and wanting to show the places I held dear in my heart as a child to my fiance. So we want to have a “premoon”, our wedding, and our honeymoon in the Hawaiian islands. But, I’m really concerned about how I’ll handle it health-wise. My main allergies are to pollens. I seem to be okay with orchids & roses, but not lillies (which are my favorite!). I don’t think molds are a real problem, but I’m hoping to see a doctor and try to find out specifically. Any other suggestions? Thank you all for any input! — Summer, Arizona