Definition of Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever)
Coccidioidomycosis, also called Valley Fever, is an infection caused by the fungus Coccidioides, which lives in the soil of dry, low rainfall areas. People can get the disease by breathing in the Coccidioides spores from the air, especially after a soil disturbance. The fungus is endemic (native and common) in many areas of the southwestern United States, Mexico, Central and South America, and it is a common cause of pneumonia in endemic areas. At least 30% – 60% of people who live in an endemic region are exposed to the fungus at some point during their lives. In most people the infection will go away on its own, but for people who develop severe infections or chronic pneumonia, medical treatment is necessary.