Wondering about wild grapes

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wondering about Valley Fever.

The first time I ever heard about valley fever was back around 2005 or 2006 at Galveston, TX. No, as far as I know, you can’t catch it there. We used to spend a month at Galveston State Park over Christmas, and one year we met some nice people who were heading back home to Florida from a trip to Arizona. A couple of days after they pulled in, his “slight cold” got worse. In fact, he got so bad his wife thought he was dying and called an ambulance. They took him to the hospital and tried to relieve his symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, and chest pains. At first they thought it was his heart. The doctors just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with this guy, they had never seen anything like it.

Their son contacted the doctors and told them that his dad had just been in Arizona and to check for Valley Fever. The doctors had no idea what that was but after some research, they figured out how to test for it and, sure enough, it was Valley Fever. Sort of sounds like a song, “I got the Fever”. That was the first time I heard of it, but not the last. It is caused by a fungus that lives in the desert dirt and sand. Therefore, when you are out in the desert, and if the dust is blowing around, wear a breathing mask or at least a bandana around your nose and mouth.

Just when I think I have this all figured out, I hear about this guy who had been prospecting in Arizona and wound up in the Wickenburg hospital. They checked him out for heart trouble and found none, so they figured he had Valley Fever and treated him for that with anti-biotics and anti-fungals but the tests came back negative. He had all the symptoms, so they believe that there are different types of fungi in the desert that causes the same symptoms. Makes sense to me. The bottom line is prevention; wear a mask when riding bikes or four-wheelers in the desert, or when prospecting. Don’t take the chance of a hospital stay. I don’t know how far spread this fungus is, but I do know for sure it is in Arizona.

We are having another cool, clear, beautiful day here today. Now you all have a great day, you hear?


  1. There is similar trouble in almost all the desert areas I have been in. Here on the coast I have seen mold growth on a few folks skin. Everywhere has its specialties.

  2. A few years ago my lovely wife and I thought we'd try the desert South West. Quickly we discovered we are not desert people. Even the normal dust was hard on my lungs. We retreated to the warm moist air of the Gulf.

  3. San Joaquin Valley Fever was first identified in, duh, the San Joaquin Valley of California. I live smack dab in the middle of the SJV. I have had Valley fever, as has anyone who has lived here any length of time. As you correctly pointed out, VF is a fungus. It grows in dirt and sand. It can be contracted through contact with the dirt, such as farm work, or from blowing dust. Most cases of VF are mild, similar to a cold. Most people who live in the endemic areas have had it and don't know it, as the symptoms are very mild. It is when the fungus spreads (disseminates) that it gets really nasty really fast. Doctors have been working for decades to try and develop a vaccine. I hear they are getting close! 30 years ago, I worked with one of the infectious disease clinics that was researching VF. Nasty disease.

  4. We have cedar fever around here, and most people that have it, think THEY are gonna die. But it's just a super bad allergy. My first X got it after taking the swine flu vaccine, later found out that was a side effect.

  5. Don't know anything about valley fever,but in some areas around here,there is just plain fungus,and it is bad!Can kill you without medical attention. Blessings Jane

  6. Barney, according to a fellow I watch on TV, "Fungus is among us".

    Sixbears, I have spent short periods of time in the Arizona desert and it only took a day or so for my skin to dry out. Not good.

    Kris, pracicing prevention and anti-fungul meds do help.

    Trouble, that is a new one on me, never heard of cedar fever but I believe you.

    Jane, fungus and mold are killers and most people don't know it.

    1. New one on me, wonder if it's a somewhat isolated to that part of the country.
      While I was in New Mexico there were reported , confirmed cases of Pneumonic Plague, not to be confused with bubonic plague. But sure were a lot of scared people around for awhile.


    2. Needless to say, I have to consider myself lucky. I've spent many years in the desert and have yet to catch me up any fungus', plagues or even an every day cold/virus. Well maybe I better take that back. In Jan. of 2001 I cached me up a dose of pneumonia in San Antonio, Texas. I chose to not go to a doctor, what nearly costed me my job with The University of Texas. Doctor excuse required for days off sick. Thought I was gonna die.

  7. Ben, I believe that it rather localized since it seems to grow best in the desert. I would imagine it could be found in other desert areas.

    BB, I know it is in tke Wickenburg and Stanton areas, can not say for sure about other areas like N.M. or TX.