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Valley Fever (cont.)

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What is the prognosis (outcome) for valley fever (coccidioidomycosis)?

The majority of people who get infected with the Coccidioides fungi have a good prognosis, as the infection is usually self-limiting. Some people with self-limiting disease may get a few small calcified areas in the lung, but these typically cause no problems for the person. Chronic disease may produce more nodules and cavities in the lung and take a year or two to resolve, but usually the prognosis is good for many patients.

However, people with diabetes or the elderly have a only fair prognosis, as they can develop progressive pulmonary disease with symptoms (shortness of breath, lung fibrosis, and cavities in the lungs) that persist for years. Progressive coccidioidomycosis has a poor prognosis. About 1% of patients are at high risk (usually those who are immunosuppressed due to HIV, cancer, or chemotherapy) for developing disseminated coccidioidomycosis, and these patients have a grave prognosis. Patients with disseminated coccidioidomycosis can have rapid development of all the symptoms listed above and die if the disease is not appropriately and rapidly treated.

What are the risk factors for developing valley fever (coccidioidomycosis)?

People living in the endemic areas (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas) have been estimated to have a 1 in 33 chance of acquiring the disease every year (others have even higher risk, see below for Kern County, Calif.), so the chance increases (accumulates) the longer they reside in the area. However, even people simply passing through the area can get the disease. Males and pregnant females have a higher risk of getting the disease. People who do construction or farm work, especially the type that disturbs the soil, and any immunosuppressed person has an increased risk of developing valley fever (coccidioidomycosis). Poor air quality in the endemic areas also increases risk for the disease. Inmates (58 individuals) in California are suing the state because they allege the contracted the disease while serving prison time.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/18/2016


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