Pacific Crest Trail hikers should know about Valley Fever

When it comes to Valley fever, awareness is key. Unfortunately, too few people know much of anything about it. A fungus that lives in the soil throughout the Southwest causes this terrible lung infection. The Pacific Crest Trail likely passes through areas where this fungus exists.

According to doctors at U.C. Davis, Valley fever is on the rise in California. While the infection is an annoyance for most, it can be more serious or even life threatening. More than 150,000 cases occur each year.

Valley fever, or Coccidioides, is often misdiagnosed as another ailment, in part because many health care providers have a low awareness of it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages you to talk to your doctor about the condition if you have symptoms (Fatigue, Cough, Fever, Shortness of breath, Headache, Night sweats, Muscle aches or joint pain, Rash on upper body or legs). Since many PCT hikers travel from other states and countries, it seems likely that doctors who are far removed from the American Southwest would be even less likely to consider this fungus.

The Centers for Disease Control says this: “In areas where Valley fever is common, it’s difficult to completely avoid exposure to the fungus because it is in the environment. There is no vaccine to prevent infection. That’s why knowing about Valley fever is one of the most important ways to avoid delays in diagnosis and treatment. People who have Valley fever symptoms and live in or have visited an area where the fungus is common should ask their doctor to test them for Valley fever. Healthcare providers should be aware that Valley fever symptoms are similar to those of other respiratory illnesses and should consider testing for Valley fever in patients with flu-like symptoms who live in or have traveled to an area where Coccidioides lives.”

Message from the PCTA…

 

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