Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Valley fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis is an infection that happens when one breathes in the fungus coccidioides. Coccidioides is found in the soil southwest of the U.S., Washington state, and South and Central America. It is named for the San Joaquin Valley in California, where it was first discovered.

Valley fever refers to the earliest stage of a Coccidioides infection. It often shows no symptoms or flu-like symptoms, but it can in some cases progress to more serious stages of coccidioidomycosis.

About 20,000 people are diagnosed with valley fever in a year. It is most common in Arizona and California.

What Effect Does Valley Fever Have On the Body

The Coccidioides fungus fragments into minute reproductive parts (spores), which are carried by the air you breathe. The fragments settle in your lungs’ airways, where they develop into larger clusters of additional spores (spherules).

The spherules have the ability to disintegrate and release additional spores into different regions of your lungs and occasionally other sections of your body. These spores have the potential to develop into spherules, which would further disseminate the fungus throughout your body.