State launches Valley Fever education campaign

February 27, 2013

Some Arizonans who get a lung disease common in the Southwest are not being treated properly by their doctors. But, the University of Arizona and State Department of Health Services have joined efforts to train physicians who may not know a lot about Valley Fever. 

Cases of Valley Fever have nearly doubled in Arizona since 2009, especially around Phoenix and Tucson where the fungus that leads to the lung ailment likes to hide in the dirt.

Experts say the sharp increase is simply due to new reporting methods. John Galgiani is Director of the U of A’s Valley Fever Center for Excellence. He says the challenge is training doctors to properly diagnose the disease that is commonly confused with pneumonia.

“Approximately a thousand new MD licenses are issued in Arizona every year and probably most of those people did not learn their trade in an area where Valley Fever is prevalent," Galgiani said.

Galgiani says the new program encourages doctors to complete an online Valley Fever course. That way physicians know what to look for and don’t give patients the wrong medicine for Valley Fever.  

He says the mistake can allow the Valley Fever spores to multiply in the lungs and that could prove fatal for some patients. 

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