Doctor: 1 in 30 Phoenicians could contract Valley fever

Apr 10, 2013, 5:00 AM | Updated: 6:24 am

PHOENIX — The recent cold front and blustery days could push the infection rate for Valley fever as high as 1 in 30 Phoenix residents, a Valley doctor said.

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control said Arizona saw a record 16,000 diagnosed Valley fever cases. But Dr. John Galgiani, medical director of the University of Arizona Valley Fever Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital, believes the number of people infected was much higher.

“It’s part of the territory here. Anywhere you live has risks,” he said.

Despite the prevalence of Valley fever, few of those infected may display symptoms. Two out of three people infected do not get sick.

“The common symptoms in most cases are pneumonia, chest pain, cough, fever and fatigue.”

Galgiani said the only way to build immunity to Valley Fever is being infected.

“It’s not repetitive exposure. If you do get infected, you may or may not get sick. Most people get over the illness and from that point on you’re probably immune from a second infection for life.”

Galgiani said it can take weeks or months to make a full recovery from the fungal infection.

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Doctor: 1 in 30 Phoenicians could contract Valley fever