Valley fever diagnoses expected to rise

Sep 3, 2012, 10:50 AM | Updated: 10:50 am

There were almost 17,000 cases of Valley fever last year in Arizona and some doctors believe the totals could be higher this year.

Valley fever is caused by breathing in spores of a fungus and experts said the high number of dust storms in the past year may be behind the ramped-up numbers.

Corey Schubert, who works at Banner Heart Hospital, said he was outside during a dust storm for about five minutes in 2011 and that’s all it took.

“I thought I was having a heart attack,” he said of when his Valley fever symptoms set in.

Schubert was found to have a lung that was massively infected with a bad case of pneumonia, but said the drugs to cure Valley fever were almost as bad as the sickness itself.

“It’s hard on your stomach and toxic for your liver but there’s no choice, you have to be on it,” he said.

Schubert’s recovery took months, and he is now more aware of how easy it is to contract.

“Every minute you’re out in a dust storm you are playing Russian roulette with your lungs because you’re breathing that stuff in,” he said.

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Valley fever diagnoses expected to rise