Valley Fever Research Aims

Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever) is an environmentally-mediated systemic infection caused by the inhalation of airborne arthroconidia from Coccidioides immitis, a soil-dwelling fungus found in the southwestern United States, parts of Mexico and Central and South America. Valley Fever is not spread person to person. When soils containing the fungus are disturbed and dust is raised, spores may be inhaled along with the dust. Certain activities such as agriculture and construction, two large industries in Arizona, cast aloft large amounts of dust. Non-human events that act to disturb the soil include wind storms and earthquakes. A rough chain of events can be construed where the soil serves has the initial habitat of the fungus, human or other dust-disturbing events send dust into the atmosphere, the winds distribute the now airborne spores where they can then be inhaled by people or other animals.

The University of Arizona, Department of Geography, in association with the United States Geological Survey and the Valley Fever Center for Excellence, has three goals in researching Valley Fever: 1) to use historical and current observations from complementary remote sensor and land-based observing systems to track climatic factors, including precipitation, temperatures, and wind speed and direction, influencing coccidioides immitis' growth and distribution; 2) to characterize linkages between terrestrial and climate models and reported cases of Valley Fever; 3) to assess potential implications, given climatic conditions provided in projected model-generated future climate scenarios, for broader impacts within United States borders. Characterization of the interaction of these factors could promote spatially explicit disease mitigation strategies.

Environmental Mediation of Valley Fever

Department of geography

U.S. geological sURVEY

Valley fever center for excellence

Center for applied spatial analysis

University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

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Image of Valley Fever Incidence Rates in 1997

Animated GIF of Valley Fever Incidence Rates by month in 1997