What are the symptoms?
Most people don't have any symptoms, or they have only very mild
symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may feel like you have a cold or the
flu. You may have a fever, chills, chest pain, a dry cough, and a rash.
The time from contact with the fungus until symptoms start is
usually 1 to 3 weeks. This is called the
In rare cases, valley fever can spread to the skin, bones,
lymph nodes, and organs. It can lead to
meningitis, a very serious infection of the coverings
around the brain and spinal cord.
The disease is more likely to spread to other areas of the body in
people who have weak immune systems. This includes pregnant
women, people who have HIV, people who take medicines that weaken the immune system, and people who have
Talk with your doctor if your symptoms are severe or last more than
a few weeks, or if you have a weak immune system and have valley fever.
How is valley fever diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. He
or she may ask if you have traveled in areas where valley fever occurs. You may
have a chest
X-ray and a blood test to look for the fungus. In some cases, the doctor may take samples of body tissues for a biopsy.
How is it treated?
Most people with valley fever get better without treatment. For
severe cases, doctors may prescribe antifungal medicines. People who are more
likely to have the disease spread to other areas of the body often get
antifungal medicines even if they have no symptoms.
To make sure you are getting better, it's important to have
follow-up visits with your doctor. You may have a chest X-ray or another blood
test after several months to make sure.
There is no medicine to prevent valley fever. But you may be able
to stay away from areas where valley fever is common.