Valley Fever Institute

What is Valley Fever?

Valley Fever is the common name for both the fungus (Coccidioides Spp.) and the illness that it causes (Coccidioidomycosis.) The fungus is found primarily in the soil of Southwestern United States, Mexico, and South America. In California, Valley Fever is most common in the Central Valley and Central Coast, but there are many areas throughout the state where Valley Fever may be found. The fungus forms long chains of spores that can break off and become airborne with high winds or soil disruption. When inhaled, the fungal spores can grow and multiply in the lungs and can cause an illness that may seem like the flu or pneumonia. Symptoms can present 1-4 weeks after exposure. Most people who get Valley Fever have mild symptoms and often do not require medication. More severe sickness is rare, but it can be serious and even deadly. The infection is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person.

Valley Fever is a disease that can affect anyone that lives, works, or spends time in areas where it is common. In these regions, Valley Fever is difficult to avoid because spores can travel through wind and air currents; however, research has shown that people who are aware of Valley Fever and its symptoms are more likely to request testing, leading to earlier diagnosis and treatment. Our goal is to encourage the public’s awareness through community engagement and education, as well as to provide information and resources to patients and their families. 

The symptoms of Valley Fever are shared with a variety of other illnesses, but when these symptoms are severe or do not resolve in 10 days, you should ask your doctor to be tested for Valley Fever.

Some patients only report one of these symptoms, while others may have many or most:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches or joint pain
  • Headache
  • Rash on upper body or legs
  • Night Sweats
  • Chills
Kern Medical Valley Fever Institute
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