PHOENIX — More than 1,100 cases of Valley Fever were reported to the Arizona Department of Health Services from January to the end of March this year. That is approximately 300 more cases than last year during the same time frame.
State health officials said Valley Fever cases, also known as Cocci, could increase even more in the coming months because late spring is a common peak-season for the disease.
“We know that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when we look at our positive results,” Dr. Cara Christ, Deputy Director for Public Health Services and Agency Chief Medical Officer for the Arizona Department of Health Services, said.
While most cases of Valley Fever are mild and go unreported, the disease can be very serious. Statistics from the Arizona Department of Health Service show that the state has averaged more than 110 Valley Fever related deaths every year since 2010.
The disease comes from a soil fungus common in the Southwest region which makes Arizona endemic for Valley Fever. In fact, Arizona accounts for 60 percent of all Valley Fever cases in the United States.
“Anybody who is in Arizona can get Valley Fever,” she said. “Arizona is one of the states in the U.S. that does get a lot of Cocci cases and we have some of the highest numbers for Cocci.”
Christ said that is why Arizonans need to be on the lookout for symptoms in the coming months.
“We would encourage that if you’ve got that long-lasting cough or flu-like symptoms that you would go see your healthcare provider,” she said.