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As detailed in NBC Los Angeles, public health officials are warning the public about an increased risk of Valley fever spreading throughout California this summer and fall. Valley fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis or “cocci,” usually infects the lungs and leads to prolonged respiratory problems such as cough, fever, chest pain, body aches, and fatigue or tiredness.

Valley fever is caused by breathing in fungus spores that grow in dust and dirt. However, a rainy season can lead to the fungus being spread into the air. Due to the historic wet winter Southern California experienced, experts and officials from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) urge the public to be cautious and learn how to distinguish the illness from other respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19.

Research from the University of California, Berkeley and CDPH found that periods of drought followed by a heavy rain season increases the transmission of the fungus which causes Valley fever. This means that California’s dry conditions, combined with the recent heavy winter rains, could result in increasing Valley fever cases in the coming months, As detailed in CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón.

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If an individual experiences respiratory symptoms that last for longer than a week and a COVID-19 test comes back negative, officials advise speaking to a doctor and asking whether the symptoms could be caused by Valley fever. Symptoms of Valley fever may last a month or more, and laboratory tests are needed to determine whether an individual has Valley fever or another illness.

To protect oneself and their family from Valley fever, it is important to know the symptoms, which will help ensure early detection. Individuals with lingering cough and fatigue should talk to a healthcare provider about Valley fever, especially if they have been outdoors in dusty air, advises Dr. Tomás Aragón.

Valley fever is caused by breathing in fungus spores found in dust and outdoor air. The fungus which causes the infection grows in dirt and soil, but heavy rain can cause the fungus to become airborne. Therefore, it is crucial for individuals to recognize the symptoms and avoid exposure to dusty air.

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To put a stop to, the wet winter weather in California has resulted in an increased risk of Valley fever infections. The fungus that causes Valley fever can be spread through the air when it is present in dust and dirt. It is important for the public to be aware of the symptoms of Valley fever and take precautions to avoid exposure to dusty air. If respiratory symptoms persist and a COVID-19 test comes back negative, individuals should consult a healthcare provider to determine if Valley fever may be the cause. By staying informed and taking necessary precautions, individuals can protect themselves and their families from the risks associated with Valley fever.

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