Frequently Asked Questions
What is Valley Fever?
The technical name for Valley Fever is Coccidioidomycosis, or "Cocci" for short. It is a lung infection that has been termed a sickness of degree. About 60 percent
of the people exposed to the infectious agent do show any symptoms. For some, may describe feeling like they have a cold or the flu. For those sick enough to go to
the doctor, it can be serious, with pneumonia-like symptoms, requiring medication and bed rest. In individuals who develop the disseminated form (infection spreads
beyond the lungs) the disease can be devastating, even fatal. Such dissemination typically spreads from the lungs to the skin, bones and membrane surrounding the
brain (causing meningitis) through the blood stream.
What is its Cause?
Valley Fever is caused by a soil-dwelling, yeast-like fungus called, Coccidioides immitis. The spores of this fungus become airborne when soil is disturbed, for
example by construction or agricultural activities. These spores are inhaled into the lungs and the infection begins.
Is Transmission Between People Possible?
The disease is not contagious from person to person and it appears that after one exposure the body will develop life-long immunity. This typically indicates that it
might be possible to develop a vaccine against a Coccidioides immitis infection.
Where is Valley Fever Found?
Valley Fever is known to be endemic (widely found) to portions of Sacramento Valley, all of the San Joaquin Valley, desert regions and southern portions of
California, the Sonoran Desert regions of Arizona, northern Mexico and some areas of Central and South America.
Information provided by the Valley Fever Vaccine Project of the Americas and the Valley Fever Center for Excellence