Coccidioidomycosis, or valley fever, a fungal infection that causes influenza-like symptoms and often leads to hospitalization, has increased “dramatically” in the U.S. Southwest in recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported this past week.
Mono County Health Dept. Dr. Richard Johnson distributed a news release alerting citizens to the health threat.
The five affected states that report cases—Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah—recorded just 2,265 in 1998, or 5.3 per 100,000 population. By 2011 the number reached 22,401 cases, or 42.6 per 100,000.
Reasons for the increase are unclear, but possible factors include environmental and population changes, evolving surveillance methods, and greater awareness of the illness.
Despite the rising number of cases, it appears that mortality rates have stayed about the same.