Valley Fever- Coccidiomycosis
Valley fever is a disease endemic to the desert southwest and is caused by a fungus. This fungus lives in the soil in all parts of the valley and is infectious to humans and their pets. Animals and humans are infected through inhalation of spores that are aerosolized when the soil is disturbed.
The disease can have many different manifestations and may be difficult to diagnose. Not every animal will have a fever as the name implies. Some animals will cough if the infection starts in the lungs. Others will have lameness as a predominant sign when the infection localizes in the bone. Unfortunately, as previously stated Valley fever can cause a multitude of symptoms which are similar to other diseases.
Once an animal has valley fever, treatment is necessary. We must remember these animals are not infectious to us or other animals unless they have an oozing skin form. However, we are in the same environment they are in so it is likely we and our other animals have been exposed to the disease.
At this time there is no real protection from the fungus, however many people and animals will contract the disease and their immune systems will handle it, these cases are never symptomatic. There are many people working on a vaccine and the word is they are close, however testing will take several years before it will be released.
The best form of treatment currently is with an anti-fungal drug Fluconazole. However, most Valley Fever infections will take months to sometimes years to resolve. Also, as with other medications, fluconazole can have adverse effects on the liver and kidneys. It is important to have regular monitoring of these patients with Valley fever titers and bi annual blood profiles.
Valley fever is diagnosed via a blood test which can take up to 5 days to complete, once diagnosed it is therefore important to treat immediately, some patients may also need anti-inflammatory medications.
If you have any questions, about this disease or are concerned about your pet please call to set up an appointment at the earliest opportunity.