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CDC report: Valley Fever on the rise in Arizona

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Valley Fever is becoming a bigger problem in Arizona and the Southwest.

Clarisse Tsang, acting infectious disease epidemiology program manager with the Arizona Department of Health Services, said Valley Fever is considered an Arizona disease. We have 60 percent of the cases but more of our visitors are taking something extra home with them.

"It's getting warmer and a lot of the spring training visitors and snowbirds are going home the East and Midwest and coming down with symptoms of Valley Fever."

Valley Fever has similar symptoms to the flu: Fever, coughing, headache and feeling run down. Tsang said if you have concerns, get tested at your doctor's office.

The rise in the number of enormous dust storms in the Valley has contributed to the rise in Valley Fever.

"And these storms don't just kick up the dust that carries Valley fever, it worsens asthma," said Tsang.

Other parts of the world and the nation don't know about Valley Fever, but because we have so many travelers who come here, it is a disease of national importance and Tsang hopes the CDC report will shed more light about the dangers of the disease.

The CDC says the number of Valley Fever cases in Arizona increased from about 1,500 in 1998 to nearly 16,500 in 2011.

Health experts say between 1998 and 2011, nearly 112,000 cases of Valley Fever were reported in 28 states and Washington, D.C.

Valley Fever is caused by inhaling a fungus which lives in soil in the Southwest and becomes airborne when the soil is disturbed.

Not everyone exposed to the fungus gets sick, but those who do typically have flu-like symptoms that can last for weeks or months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

About the Author

Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.


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