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Phoenix researchers develop new, faster test for valley fever diagnosis

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — A quicker test for valley fever could be available as soon as next year.

Phoenix company T-Gen said it’s patented a test that can detect the fungal infection right away. That means doctors could get results within days, not weeks. Current tests can take up to six weeks for a definitive diagnosis.

David Engelthaler, director of programs for T-Gen North, said the new test, developed with Northern Arizona University, could save both doctors and patients time and money.

“Doctors can make rapid decisions about the patients,” he said, “and save them from months of having to return back to the healthcare system, and be treated inappropriately.”

Engelthaler said the test has been licensed for marketing and distribution to a Utah biotechnology company.

“[They’re] finalizing their package to submit to the FDA,” he said.

“Hopefully that happens later this year, and the test becomes available next year.”

The spores from valley fever are found naturally in Arizona’s air and soil.

Many who breathe in those spores are not affected. However, some develop flu-like symptoms and so-called “walking pneumonia.”

The disease can kill quickly if a lung infection progresses.