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Number of confirmed valley fever cases on the rise in Arizona

PHOENIX — With the number of confirmed valley fever cases on the rise in Arizona, officials with the state Department of Health Services are encouraging residents to get tested.

Spokeswoman Jessica Rigler told KTAR News 92.3 FM that there have been 3,300 confirmed cases of valley fever through May of this year. That is 1,000 more cases compared to the same time period last year.

“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she added. “There are many out there who don’t have symptoms of haven’t been diagnosed.

“It’s a low estimate of those who are actually sick.”

Valley fever, Rigler explains, is an infection caused by a fungus. People can get it by inhaling valley fever spores that get disrupted from the soil and into the air.

“We typically see increases (in diagnoses) in the fall and winter, but it’s unknown when people get the disease because the diagnosis can take a while,” she said.

Some of the symptoms of valley fever include having a fever, feeling tired or having head or muscle aches. Rigler said anyone who thinks they have valley fever should ask their doctor for a test.

Among those who are most vulnerable to getting the disease include pregnant people and those with compromised immune systems, but anyone can catch it.

To avoid catching valley fever, Rigler says, avoid activities that can dig up dirt and stay inside during monsoon storms.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report.