• Mark L. Johnson

Cocci Chronicles V-Summary & Future

Updated: Jul 11


This is the fifth Part of a series about Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis). It is presented in a form that provides the essentials. More detailed/scientific information can be found at the University of Arizona Valley Fever Center of Excellence.



Ten Important Valley Fever Facts


  1. Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever) is caused by an airborne soil fungus called Coccidioides (Cocci). Cocci is located primarily in the desert soils of Southwest Arizona and Central Valley California where the disease got its namesake.

  2. Once deep in the lungs, the spore converts to a spherule which grows and bursts releasing endospores---each of which becomes another spherule.

  3. 60% of those infected have No or Minor Symptoms as the body's immune system is able to control the infection and no medical care is required.

  4. 40% of those infected have Moderate Symptoms (30%) or Severe Symptoms (10%) and require some type of medical care.

  5. Valley Fever is not contagious and once infected you have a lifetime immunity (after infection if your immune system is compromised by chemotherapy, HIV infection, etc. Valley Fever can "wake-up" and the symptoms can reoccur).

  6. Valley Fever symptoms are due to the body's immune system in overload and are similar to flu, cold, allergy and COVID-19 symptoms. Valley Fever is difficult to diagnose.

  7. Valley Fever is typically confirmed with Chest CT Scan and Cocci Antibody Test (IgM & IgG) which can take up to two weeks to get results.

  8. Moderate cases of Valley Fever are typically treated with the anti-fungal drug fluconazole. Fluconazole does not immediately kill the fungal cells but interferes with the fungal cell wall growth which can take time (months) and has annoying side-effects.

  9. Moderate and Severe Valley Fever cases are chronic and treatment may take 4 months to one year.

  10. Dissiminated Valley Fever (Severe) occurs when the infection travels via the bloodstream and infects the brain, bones, skin, lymph nodes or joints and can result in death.


Observations


  1. Patient Awareness-new arrivals to the Arizona Dust Belt need readily available and better practical information about Valley Fever.

  2. Physician Awareness-newer physicians to the Arizona Dust Belt need better Valley Fever indoctrination and training.

  3. Disease Importance-some Arizona Dust Belt natives and physicians downplay the seriousness of Valley Fever.

  4. Diagnosis-frequently missed.

  5. Test-quick accurate test does not exist.

  6. Vaccine-not available.

  7. Drugs-faster acting drugs with less side-effects are desired.

  8. Long Term Care-some physicians do not want to provide long-term care after diagnosis.


The goal of Cocci Chronicles is to make readers aware of Valley Fever and provide the basic tools if symptoms and infection develop.


Already, I have received communication from a few TA members indicating that Cocci Chronicles was very helpful with their recent Valley Fever diagnosis.





Future Work


The Observations from my Valley Fever illness suggest that more needs to be done and our immediate family intends to do more. We have a wonderful affiliation with the University of Arizona (U of A) and we are ongoing U of A Foundation donors. Shirley and I have recently re-directed our annual giving for a five-year period to the U of A Valley Fever Center of Excellence. Hopefully, this will help with tackling the many Valley Fever research and education needs. We hope to work with Dr. Galgiani and his staff on their endowment and patient/physician education efforts in the years ahead.


If you or a family member have any questions about Valley Fever, please do not hesitate to email me directly at (mark18trek@gmail.com). I would be happy to help.