Dust, Devil : The Rise of Valley Fever
January 13, 2014 1:48 PM Subscribe
"All you have to do is take a breath at the wrong time. It will impact your lower lung, and the infection starts from there [...]. If you roll down the window driving from San Diego to Seattle, you could catch cocci while you're driving through, no question. That could happen, and it has happened." Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis) is a fungal infection endemic to certain areas of the Southwest. The CDC has described it as a "silent epidemic"; between 1998 and 2011, reported cases increased tenfold. It's often misdiagnosed, but even when correctly-diagnosed, the prognosis can sometimes be grim: there is no vaccine, the price of the first-line drug has skyrocketed, and the treatments for more-severe cases often carry their own punishing side effects. While many groups (including NASA) seek to halt the spread, the disease continues to infect 20,000+ individuals each year. "It destroys lives,” said Dr. [Royce] Johnson [...]. Divorces, lost jobs and bankruptcy are incredibly common, not to mention psychological dislocation."
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