Valley Fever cases on the rise throughout LA County

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Each year since 2009, reported cases of Valley Fever, or Coccidioidomycosis, have increased compared to the year before, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

In 2016 a total of 714 cases were reported across Los Angeles County, compared with 521 in 2015.  This reflects a 37 percent increase in cases from 2015 to 2016, according to Department of Public Health.

Overall the rate of Valley Fever in Los Angeles County each year is about eight cases per 100,000 people.

“State and county-wide our numbers have slowly been increasing,” said Dr. Dawn Terashita, a medical epidemiologist with the Department of Public Health.  “The whole area generally is seeing an increase, no clustering.”

Those in the Antelope Valley are nine times more likely to be diagnosed with Valley Fever than those living elsewhere, according to a July 21 notice from the Department of Public Health.

Valley Fever also impacts individuals in the Santa Clarita Valley, who have reported cases to the Department of Public Health each year.

“We looked back over the past three months… the number of cases in Santa Clarita are very similar to last year,” Dr. Terashita said.  “I wouldn’t say we had an increase from year to year.”

Dr. Terashita said none of the recently reported cases to the Department of Public Health led to a severe infection or illness like meningitis.

This means that although there are cases of Valley Fever in the area, there is no clustering and no outbreak of Valley Fever in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The Department also noted that it investigates every report it gets of the disease and that its 2016 numbers and report of cases will be released in the upcoming months.

Valley Fever is a common fungal disease transmitted through the Coccidioides immitis spores that are carried in dust, according to the Department of Public Health.

The spores are often spread when it is windy or when soil is disturbed during activities like gardening or construction.

Environmental conditions that create an increased occurrence of Valley Fever include: arid to semi-arid regions, dust storms, lower altitude, hotter summers, warmer winters and sandy, alkaline soils.

The disease is regularly found among people in the southwestern U.S. and in parts of Mexico and South America.

Many of those with Valley Fever show no symptoms or have a mild respiratory illness.  Some infected individuals may develop a severe illness such as pneumonia, meningitis, or dissemination when the fungus spreads to many parts of the body.


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