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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

New center opens for fever research

The UA has agreed to expand its efforts in valley fever research by opening a new center in Phoenix.

The UA’s Valley Fever Center for Excellence, located at the University of Arizona Medical Center-University Campus is set to open a valley fever research center in Phoenix at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.

Coccidioidomycosis, commonly known as valley fever, is a disease that occurs when fungus spores found in soil particles are breathed in and cause an infection in the lungs. The disease is typically reported in dry desert regions like the Southwestern United States and parts of central South America. Symptoms include fever, chest pain, joint stiffness and coughing.

“The spores start to multiply and that causes the infection, usually pneumonia,” said Dr. John Galgiani, founder of the UA’s Valley Fever Center for Excellence and director of the new center. “In many people, the immune system controls that infection and is common with maybe 100,000 infections a year in Arizona. But out of that large denominator, a small percentage of people get fairly sick. The fungus leaves the lungs and goes to other parts of the body.”

When left untreated, valley fever can result in death.

The UA wanted to establish a center in Phoenix because 80 percent of all cases of valley fever in Arizona occur in Maricopa County, Galgiani said. Galgiani said he thinks this is because of the heavy population in the western endemic region known for valley fever.

“It’s a good place to have more of a clinical presence,” Galgiani said. “We are going to be practicing a combination of things at the new center.”

When established, the center will be used to treat patients with valley fever as well as increase awareness and medical education about the disease through research.

“We do want to make the new center an access for patients who need help,” Galgiani said. “Because of the location, patient care can be handled either at St. Joseph’s or by center members who practice around that area.”

The UA’s Valley Fever Center for Excellence is the only center in the world that specializes in valley fever research and treatment. Throughout the day, the center takes calls from other hospitals treating people with lung diseases around the nation and even other countries.

“Right now I will be calling a doctor in Australia who is taking care of a patient with meningitis,” said Galgiani when explaining what the current and new centers are practicing. “We think we are doing some good.”

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