Some doctors are concerned that the recent wet weather in the form of Hurricane Hilary and “monsoon flooding” in the west could result in a deadly fungal infection outbreak. They are warning of “valley fever”, which is a fungal infection that can cause flu-like symptoms in some, but if not caught, can spread and cause organ failure and death.
The fungal disease is rare so many doctors don’t test for it. That reminds of a meme:
Valley fever, or Coccidioidosis, is a fungal infection. Humans and pets can get it just by inhaling fungal spores in dusty air. Fungus spores grow in dirt and soil and become airborne when wind, construction, digging, and earthquakes disturb the soil. The wind carries the spores to noses and mouths. The spores thrive in the rain and multiply, according to notes in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“Sometimes after rains, you will see an increase in valley fever, infections, primarily in patients who are outside doing things in the dust of the desert,” Dr. Vincent Devlin, Immunologist and Allergist told FOX 11 Palm Springs.
More than 64,000 of Burning Man festival attendees were stranded in the Nevada desert after an inch of rain soaked the desert sands. The dirt roads were impassible. -Fox Weather
“If there’s a dust storm, or if the air quality is very poor with dust, certainly the fungal spores can be kicked up,” Devlin said.
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FOX News correspondent Marianne Rafferty nearly lost her three-year-old son to the illness. “There was a time right around the time he was diagnosed when we were not sure if we would walk out of the hospital with our son or not,” Rafferty told FOX Weather. “My son ended up with massive brain swelling and a condition called hydrocephalus.”
“So two years go by, and the fungus is just running rampant in his system. And he got extremely ill,” Rafferty recalled. “The shunt that they had to place in order to drain his brain fluid properly had failed. So when they took it out, the doctor said, ‘this thing’s covered in fungus of some sort, and we’ve got to test it and figure out what this is.’”
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Symptoms are nausea and vomiting, flu-like symptoms, fever, chills, difficulty breathing, and aches. The disease is responsible for 15% to 30% of community-acquired pneumonia across Arizona, according to the Center for Disease Control. Doctors many times treat for a bacterial infection in that case. On x-rays, the disease can mimic lung cancer.
This could be something to watch out for, or it could be more fear-mongering. It’s hard to tell at this point. Just be aware and continue to use discernment.
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