0
We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
Retry
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
Retry
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
JAMA Patient Page |

Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis) FREE

Jill Jin, MD, MPH
JAMA. 2013;310(22):2470. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280726.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Valley fever refers to pneumonia caused by a type of fungus called Coccidioides.

Valley fever is also called coccidioidomycosis. The name “valley fever” comes from the fact that the natural habitat of Coccidioides is the southwestern United States, in particular the central California valley.

TRANSMISSION

Valley fever is acquired by breathing Coccidioides spores that are present in the air when soil and dust are disturbed. Valley fever cannot be spread from person to person. It is most often seen in people who live in or travel to California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, where Coccidioides is naturally found. Coccidioides is also found in Mexico and Central America. People who have a higher chance of getting valley fever when exposed to Coccidioides are those with weakened immune systems due to either medical conditions or medications. For example, people who have diabetes, have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, take high doses of steroids, or are being treated with chemotherapy for cancer are at higher risk of valley fever. Pregnancy is also a risk factor.

SYMPTOMS

Only a small percentage of people who inhale Coccidioides spores actually develop symptoms of valley fever. Symptoms can last weeks to months and include

  • Fever

  • Cough, which can be a dry cough, a cough with phlegm, or a cough with bloody phlegm

  • Flu-like symptoms such as muscle pain, joint pain, headache, and fatigue

  • Rash

DIAGNOSIS

The diagnosis of valley fever is based on the right clinical symptoms in the right geographical context. Confirmation of the diagnosis is done by testing the blood for Coccidioides antibodies. Sometimes a chest x-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan is helpful to detect changes from pneumonia. Testing of the sputum (phlegm) is rarely done because it is often difficult to get an adequate sample and test results take a long time.

TREATMENT

In otherwise healthy people, valley fever usually resolves on its own and does not require treatment. However, all patients diagnosed as having valley fever should follow up with their doctor every 3 to 6 months for up to 2 years to make sure the infection resolves without treatment. Patients whose symptoms do not resolve on their own or who have severe symptoms can be treated with antifungal medications. Treatment, when needed, is usually given for many months.

Box Section Ref ID

For More Information

To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link on JAMA’s website at jama.com. Many are available in English and Spanish.

ARTICLE INFORMATION

The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. To purchase bulk reprints, call 312/464-0776.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Topic: Infectious Disease

Tables

References

CME
Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.

Multimedia

Spanish Patient Page: Fiebre del valle (coccidioidomicosis)

Supplemental Content

Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Related Collections