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New research finds Valley Fever can spread in wet weather

Posted at 7:35 AM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 10:35:10-04

PHOENIX — As Arizona comes out of an active monsoon season, new research out of Northern Arizona University finds moisture in soil contributes to the spread of Valley Fever.

Typically when you think of Valley Fever, you may think of it spreading during dry parts of the year or during a dust storm. But, Dr. Bridget Barker, an associate professor at NAU and Dan Kollath, a PHD candidate, found that the fungus that creates Valley Fever doesn't stop growing when it rains.

"Just learning this little basic biology can inform the public that we are susceptible year round because the fungus just doesn't stop growing," said Kollath.

Barker says Arizonans should keep that in mind when cleaning up their yards after a storm.

"Wear an N95 mask if you can," she said. "Don't use your leaf blower to basically aerosolize potentially the spores that might be contained in that debris. Remove that from your property, but be very cautious."

Data from the Arizona Department of Health Services shows about 8,500 Arizonans have reported getting Valley Fever so far this year.

Symptoms include fatigue, fever or a rash that looks like hives on your forearms or shins. AZDHS says it could take a few weeks until symptoms appear, but in some cases they can be long lasting and serious.

About 60% of people have no symptoms at all, according to AZDHS.

Barker says about two-thirds of Valley Fever cases are in Arizona, which is why the research being done is so important.