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Valley Fever

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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 incubation period.

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 diabetes.

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.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 09, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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