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Valley fever cases rising in Arizona - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Valley fever cases rising in Arizona

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TUCSON -

Valley fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis, is on the rise and the numbers are alarming

Anyone battling fatigue, a cough and exhaustion may have more than just a cold. 

The number of valley fever cases are going up by the day, nearly doubling last year's. 

The Arizona Health Department has reported 3,660 valley fever cases just since January, 438 of those are in Pima County. 

"Valley fever is a local problem we have. It's a fungal infection," said Dr. John Galgiani, Valley Fever Center for Excellence Director. "It's local here because this is where it grows in the soil and spores get out of the soil and into the air when things dry out, like right now, and if that happens and you happen to inhale one of those spoors, that starts an infection."

Cases of valley fever are up by nearly 50% compared to this time last year and the disease could be fatal. 

"The state has shown that it's probably more like 100 deaths per year on average," said Galgiani. "There was national data that there was 160 per year on average across the country and we have two-thirds of the problem here in Arizona."

The illness could last many weeks or months. Galgiani recommends asking a doctor for a test. 

There is also an at-home lab test through Sonora Quest Laboratories.

"This is not a disease to be scared of, but you should know about it," Galgiani said. "There are risks to living anywhere in the world and the more you know about what those risks are, the better prepared you are to do whatever is necessary if in fact you get diagnosed with this."

The best way to prevent getting it is to stay inside during dust storms and avoid activities that involved close contact with dirt or dust. 

Plus dogs can catch it, so if your pet is showing symptoms, talk to a veterinarian about valley fever. 

The good news is it is not contagious. 

To see the Arizona Department of Health numbers, click here

To find a doctor that specializes in valley fever, click here

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