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Sick? How to tell if it's COVID, a cold, or Valley Fever

Posted at 7:30 AM, Aug 03, 2021

Cough, fever, runny nose... these days it can be hard to tell if you have COVID-19, a cold, or Valley Fever.

The monsoon does bring an increased risk for Valley Fever, a fungal infection unique to the desert, but it could be tougher to diagnose this year because of COVID.

Valley Fever comes from fungal spores that live in the dirt so any wind can kick that up and carry it into your system. Dust storms are the biggest threat but even using a leaf blower can do it, so landscapers and people who spend a lot of time outside in the dust are most at risk of getting Valley Fever.

However, anyone who's had a bronchial infection or is carrying respiratory sensitivity after having COVID can have a harder time if they get Valley Fever.

The big problem is it is hard to tell the difference and you need different tests to confirm both.

Health Insider Dr. Shad Marvasti says there are a few tell-tale signs.

"Valley Fever doesn't tend to have nasal congestion... it's more lung involvement so coughing, shortness of breath. It also starts with night sweats, chills. But, it's really not able to be distinguished easily, especially now with COVID," said Dr. Marvasti.

He also points out another way to differentiate illnesses is Valley Fever shows up in the summer while flu season is typically winter.

Dr. Shad does recommend anyone experiencing fever, chills, cough, or runny nose take a COVID test first, especially as the delta variant surges.