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Valley Fever Cases Climb In California’s Central Valley — And Beyond

Valley fever cases are on the rise in California and across the arid Southwest, and scientists point to climate change and population shifts as possible reasons.

868彩票地址California public health officials of confirmed, suspected and probable new cases of the fungal disease as of Nov. 30, 2019, up 12% from 6,929 in the first 11 months of 2018.

The increase is part of a recent trend in the nation’s Southwest dating to 2014, with outbreaks most prevalent in California and Arizona. Nationally, public health officials reported 14,364 confirmed cases of valley fever in 2017, more than six times the number reported in 1998, according to the and Prevention.

Valley fever is caused by a that lives in the soil of California’s Central Valley, Arizona and areas of other Southwestern states prone to desert-type conditions. Animals and people can contract the infection by breathing in dust that contains the microscopic fungus spores. The infection is not transmitted from person to person.

on California estimated the direct and indirect lifetime costs of 2017 cases at about $700 million, when considering treatment expenses, lost productivity and mortality.

868彩票地址Researchers attribute the spike in cases to a number of factors. There’s more awareness of the disease because of media coverage and public health campaigns. California has earmarked $2 million for a public awareness campaign, and employers in regions of the state where workers are at higher risk for the disease will be required to educate them about the disease.

Population growth in the American Southwest, where the fungus is endemic, also plays a role, both because of the increased pool of patients and development that disturbs the soil. In Kern County, which reports the majority of California’s cases, the population has grown 65% since 1990.

But the most significant factor may prove to be climate change, which expands the ecosystems where the fungus can flourish. Using climate models, that by 2100 the expanse of areas with hot, dry conditions favored by the fungus could double and the number of valley fever cases could grow by 50%.

(Courtesy of Gorris et al.)

This KHN story first published on?, a service of the .

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