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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Marana joins valley fever awareness effort

The UA Valley Fever Center for Excellence wants to increase awareness of valley fever before the months where infection is most prevalent — June, July, October and November.

“”It’s a disease we deal with here,”” said Dr. John N. Galgiani, a professor of medicine and the director of the UA’s Valley Fever Center for Excellence. “”It’s not something so much to be afraid of, just to know it exists.””

The vast majority of infections in the United States, nearly two-thirds, occur in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties or the “”Valley Fever Corridor.””

“”The Department of Health Services found that people who knew about valley fever before they got sick were more likely to be diagnosed earlier than people who didn’t know about valley fever before they got sick,”” Galgiani said. “”That’s one of the reasons they think awareness is a good idea.””

The Valley Fever Corridor Project was designed to increase awareness about valley fever in the community through website development and community group presentations, Galgiani said. The Maricopa Association of Governments, the Tucson City Council and the town councils of Oro Valley and Marana have endorsed the program.

The Town of Marana wants to help raise the awareness of the disease because it is a problem in this area, said Rodney Campbell, the town’s public information officer.

“”I think it’s just a good public service to help facilitate any way we can,”” said Marana Mayor Ed Honea.

Honea, who had the disease in the summer during his childhood, said he doesn’t remember any pain.

“”They tell me that the average person that gets it doesn’t even know they had it,”” Honea said.

The center is developed a professional organization called the Valley Fever Alliance of Arizona Clinicians, which focuses on the disease. There are 82 members that talk in a forum, refer patients or are a resource for those who need to find a doctor, Galgiani said.

The most common symptoms for valley fever are similar to pneumonia. Chest pains, fever, coughing and shortness of breath can all be signs of the disease, Galgiani said. It cannot be distinguished without laboratory tests.

Though valley fever doesn’t always need to be treated, it can be treated with specific antifungal drugs, he said.

“”Those people that do need treatment, it gets very individualized as to what exactly they need,”” he said.

Galgiani estimated that approximately 100 people across the country die from the disease, though the majority of infections heal on their own.

Though about 30,000 people seek medical attention for the disease every year, there is a 3 percent chance per year of being infected with the disease. About 400 patients will develop an infection going out of the lungs. This is where it starts and spreads to other parts in the body, he said.

“”Those are very serious infections and require lots of medical care,”” Galgiani said. “”The risk is small, but it’s real and it’s like anywhere you live, you want to be aware of your surroundings.””

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