Category Archives: Texas [TX]

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.”

Most difficult place to live with allergies in 2012

Knoxville, TN, topped the list as the most difficult place to live with allergies in the Asthma and Allergy Foundation’s Fall Allergy Roundup in 2011, and it has taken the #1 spot for spring allergies in 2012 as well. Knoxville scored second in AAFA’s spring, 2011, list. In second place for Fall allergies this year is McAllen, TX. You can see the complete list for Spring, 2012, on the AAFA website.

AAFA bases its rankings on 3 factors: Pollen scores, number of allergy medications used per patient, and number of allergy specialists per patient.

Fall Allergy Capitals, Portland better than average 2011

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) released it’s “Fall Allergy Capitals” this month. Topping the list is Knoxville, TN, followed by Dayton, OH, McAllen, TX, Jackson, MS, and Oklahoma City, OK. AAFA does extensive research each year to provide this information on an annual basis.

Each Spring, AAFA also publishes their “Asthma Capitals” list. We did a full writeup of their 2011 Spring Allergy report soon after the report was released.This year, Richmond, VA tops the list. See the AAFA complete report listing the top ten Asthma Capitals linked below.

AAFA says, “There is no place safe from allergies in America, and some cities are more problematic than others.” Our goal here at Allergy Climates is to provide a place where people in the US and around the world can share which areas are least/most problematic for them.

Portland, Oregon ranks #100 on both lists this year for 2011, topping the year for the “better than average” place to live with allergies/asthma. What is your experience with allergy and asthma in Portland?

AAFA Asthma Capitals (Spring)
AAFA Fall Allergy Capitals

Asthma in Florida – considering Amarillo TX, Connecticut, or Oregon

We came to Orlando FL a year ago, and since we got here we are getting sick every month! and every time is worse. My husband and me have allergies, as well as our son, and including that our daughter has asthma. We were on medicine for allergies and it wasn’t so bad until we move in here! Christmas, we were in bed sick, January too, Valentines day all of us sick, and right now? yes! you got it! we are sick.

Of course we are moving to another state, I have been reading a lot, and the more I read the more I am afraid of making a mistake on where to move.

Our choices so far are:
Amarillo Texas, Connecticut, Oregon… and anywhere where is not too cold, because of the asthma. Please help us! – Nancy, Florida

Mountain Cedar-Juniper allergy: relief in Santa Fe NM

We moved to Santa Fe one year ago due to allergy and asthma in Dallas so severe that I had infections up to 5 x two years.  Juniper is in the same family as Cedar so we still suffer, but very little as the pollen counts in Dallas are around 10 grains per cubic meter as opposed to 4 grains here.  Allergies and asthma improved greatly.  Less pollen because less humidity for it to float around on. Low mold counts due to dryness. Santa Fe superior to Albuquerque in our opinion because of no smog (simply does not form here).  Gorgeous weather, sights, etc. We DO humidify in winter – easily done.  Rejected Tucson due to hot weather helping smog form.  We found relief in Santa Fe! – Cindy, New Mexico

Allergies in August – blend of summer and fall

August brings with it the beginning of fall allergy season. Summer grass and tree pollen blend with the start of Ragweed season around mid August, providing a double dose of allergy symptoms for many.

Melon season is in it’s prime as August approaches. Eating cantaloupe and watermelon can trigger reactions in those allergic to Ragweed. Other foods that have been reported to be cross-reactive with Ragweed include honeydew, chamomile, honey, banana, sunflower seeds, zucchini squash, and cucumber. Add to these potato, melon, tomato, watermelon, orange, cherry, peanut, and kiwi, all of which are cross-reactive with lingering summer grasses, and you have a recipe for August Allergy Mix.

Mold counts rise with humidity of summer as well as the rotting foliage of fall. Seasonal changes usually bring showers, and mold spores propagate readily in the moist atmosphere.

Various trees pollinate at different times year round. In southern states, the Fall Elm, or Cedar Elm, begins dusting the air with pollen in August. This tree is also dubbed Texas Elm because it is so dominant in Texas during the fall allergy season. I am vacationing in Ft. Worth, TX, today, and a local group, Allergy Testing and Treatment Center, reports the following pollen counts:

Fungus [Mold] high at 2046 grains per cubic meter
Ragweed moderate at 46 grains per cubic meter
Elm high at 232 grains per cubic meter

Ragweed is common almost world-wide, but many in other parts of the world are experiencing different allergens in August than those we discussed here. Feel free to share the predominant August allergens in your area in the comments.

Allergies and Gulf of Mexico oil spill

What effect does exposure to vapors and other oil spill-related hazards in the Gulf of Mexico have on those with asthma and other respiratory allergies? I’ve collected some of the current responses to these issues, but we want to hear from you. If you live or work in the gulf, or feel your allergies or health have been affected by the oil spill, please share your comments in the ‘Leave a Reply’ area below.

Long-term effects of the BP spill are not yet known, but we do know that, while fumes and irritants are not allergens, they can trigger an allergic rhinitis and asthma reactions. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is conducting health hazard evaluations and surveillance to track symptoms indluding worsening of asthma, cough, chest pain, eye irritation, nausea, and headache.

NIOSH has listed the following potential hazards in its Deepwater Horizon gulf oil spill guidance for workers: benzene, chemical dispersants and other chemical hazards, fatigue, fuel oil, heat stress, hurricanes, mosquitoes, poisonous plants, respiratory protection, snakes, stinging insects, stress, and sun exposure.

ABC news reports that over a million gallons of chemical dispersants have been used in the cleanup. Long-term affects of these dispersants on health are not yet known. In addition to the obvious dangers of chemical irritants and pollutants, other allergens discussed below threaten outdoor workers.

Poisonous plants such as poison ivy, oak, and sumac not only cause severe allergic reactions in many by direct contact, but inhaling smoke from burning brush piles containing these plants can cause severe allergic respiratory reactions. Urushiol from these plants can remain active on the surface of tools and other objects for up to 5 years.

Bees, wasps, hornets and fire ants pose an additional threat to workers involved in the cleanup. Their stings can result in severe allergic reactions that require immediate medical care and may cause death.

Allergy to the sun can be a threat for outdoor workers, in addition to the more common threats of sunburn and skin cancers. Mayo Clinic describes four types of sun allergy: polymorphic light eruption, actinic prurigo, chronic actinic dermatitis, and solar urticaria.

References

Chemical Dispersants (ABC News)
Heat (Accuweather.com)
Oil spill related health issues (Skin and Allergy News)
Respiratory effects (Fox News)
Health Surveillance Oil Spill (Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico Response (NIOSH)
Hazard Information (NIOSH)
Sun Allergy (Mayo Clinic)

Beach-dweller from VA: cough, itchy throat, ears, eyes in TX

I was in the military and originally from VA. I lived by the beach there while being stationed in the military and even after I got out of the military. I had an occassional sinus infection. Since moving to TX my son and I both get swollen eyes, coughing, itchy throats and ears and eyes. Where can we move so that my son and I can go back outside and not have to worry about our eyes swelling or me waking up with a stuffy nose, head pounding and my eyes won’t be black underneath and I can have energy again to play with my other children. – Kristy, TX

Allergies in Dallas with conjunctivitis, nasal blocks, rashes

We have been in Dallas,TX for about 2 yrs. now and my 6 yr. old is suffering a lot with allergies. He gets the allergic conjuctivitis, along with nasal blocks, rashes and all other symptoms. Its hard to deal with since it affects his eyes and there is little relief without steroids. We are looking to move to a better place for him. So, would appreciate feedback as to which place in US would do him good. He is highly allergic to most trees here, grass and weeds. Thanks. — Ana, Dallas