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  • Writer's pictureMark L. Johnson

Cocci Chronicles-Part I

Updated: Jul 11, 2021

Arthroconidia Form of Coccidioides In The Soil


Arizona is the epicenter for a soil fungus called Coccidioides (Cocci) and the associated disease coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever). Two-thirds of all US infections occur in Arizona. The Arizona Department of Health Services Valley Fever Report 2019 reported 14.4 cases per 10,000 population with 93% of the cases in Pima, Pinal and Maricopa Counties.

The severity of symptoms vary with 60% of those infected being Mild and requiring no medical care. Moderate symptoms affect 30% of those infected and do require medical care. Severe symptoms occur in 10% of those infected and require very complex medical care.

Unfortunately for me, I contracted Valley Fever last summer (2020) and my illness is rated as Moderate (High). I write this not for sympathy but to provide important information about this local elusive infectious disease. Future Parts will: (1) further describe the mycology, (2) review the symptoms and how they can be confused with other illnesses, (2) treatment, (3) recovery and (4) local resources.

We are most fortunate to have the University of Arizona Valley Fever Center of Excellence (VFCE) right in our backyard. Last week, Shirley and I had a tour of the VFCE with Director Dr. John Galgiani, MD (see photo right), U of A Assistant Basketball Coach Jack Murphy (Valley Fever patient) and Reggie Geary (U of A Director of Development and former U of A and NBA basketball player and coach). A future Part will provide more about this informative tour. I relied heavily on the VFCE Website to help during my illness.


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