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Valley Fever

"VALLEY FEVER" is an infection caused by the fungus Coccidiodies immitis which lives in the soil of the arid deserts of the southwestern United States. The fungus grows during wetter parts of the desert winter then dries and sporulates in the hot dry summer. When the fungus produces spores, if inhaled from soil or dust, an infection can result. The disease cannot be transmitted from an infected animal to other animals or to people in most cases.

Almost all animals that inhale the spores do not become infected, and many become resistant to infection. When animals do become infected there are two main forms of the disease; a primary form which generally involves the lungs and manifests as fever, cough, and loss of appetite. The other form, known as the disseminated form, can involve bone, joints, skin and other organ systems. This form is much more difficult to treat.

CLINICAL SIGNS can include; fever, joint swelling, weight loss, chronic cough, skin abscesses, lameness, pain, seizures, and incoordination. Diagnosis is made through blood tests, X-rays, biopsy, or other tests depending on areas affected.

TREATMENT consists of long term drug therapy (Fluconazole or some related drug) which are taken in pill form. Other treatments are available for more severe cases. Treatment is a slow process and may take over a year in some cases. Follow-up testing every 120 days is required to monitor the success of the therapy. This testing is extremely important if your pet is to be cured.

Some pets with the disseminated form may not be cured, although long term therapy may control the illness.