Most Arizonans have heard of Valley Fever and typically connect it with big dust storms during the monsoon, but now Valley Fever is showing up in other parts of the world and some of it has been traced back to Arizona.
Microbiologists have directly connected fungus found in South America to Arizona. After studying migration patterns, researchers also found Valley Fever spores from Texas traveled to Venezuela and to Washington from California.
Arizona-based research lab t-gen and the Centers for Disease Control said there doesn't have to be a dust storm to pull those spores into the air and into your lungs as previously thought, any gust of wind will do it.
"Haboobs do not carry a huge amount of spores. They're no different than being out on a windy day, normal weather, just a little bit of wind, but no dust." said microbiologist Michael Saubolle, with Sonora Quest Labs.
He says as a result of easier migration, more people are getting sick with Valley Fever than ever before. In Arizona, the Department of Health has reported 600 cases a month this year, 56% higher than this time in 2017 and that doesn't account for those who are misdiagnosed.
If you've had pneumonia, bronchial infections, immune deficiencies or are in your third trimester of pregnancy Dr. Saubolle says you're at higher risk of contracting it.
The symptoms are similar to the flu: Body aches, constant headache, fever and you might also develop a rash. His best advice if you're particularly vulnerable is to stay indoors during wind and dust storms and wear a mask if you do go out.
Sonora Quest also offers a Valley Fever blood test for $45 without a doctor's referral or insurance. https://www.sonoraquest.com/patient/patient-resources/valley-fever-screen/