Valley fever endemic among respiratory illnesses plaguing Arizona
Jan 22, 2024, 4:15 AM | Updated: Feb 2, 2024, 2:00 pm
PHOENIX — Coming into the back half of flu season, respiratory illnesses such as Valley fever, Covid-19 and run-of-the-mill influenza are as prevalent as ever.
Each virus can range from mild symptoms like a light cough to gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting all the way up to more severe symptoms such as pneumonia.
Though it’s not too late to get vaccines for Covid-19 or the flu, there are other preventative measures to stay healthy as well, such as reducing stress, washing hands, resting, healthy eating and staying warm.
However, Valley fever is much less discussed and that’s part of what can make it so dangerous.
“Valley fever is a respiratory illness caused by spores that live in the desert in our soil,” Samia Kadri, a leader family nurse practitioner at Banner Urgent Care, said. “A lot of times people have a cough and they don’t really go get checked out.”
It most greatly affects southwestern regions including Arizona and its surrounding states. People who are often outside, such as landscapers, runners and hikers are most at risk.
She emphasized taking Valley fever seriously early in the onset of symptoms because early diagnosis and early treatment are key to moving past the sickness.
Valley fever is the type of respiratory illness that, if not treated, can impact other parts of the body as well.
“It can get into the joints, it can develop into meningitis, it can go to any area of your body outside your lungs,” Kadri added. “You would have to see an infectious disease specialist and sometimes the outcome is not favorable. It can go into the spine, the legs. So early diagnosis, early treatment is the best outcome.”
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Kate Ourada contributed to this report.