Risk & Prevention
Anyone can get coccidioidomycosis, but people who live in California, New Mexico, and Arizona are at increased risk. People who travel to other endemic regions for Coccidioides are also at risk, including parts of Mexico and South America. In addition, certain groups of people, including people of Asian descent (particularly Filipino), African-Americans, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are at increased risk for severe disease.
If you are HIV positive or if you have a weakened immune system, you are at increased risk for severe coccidioidomycosis. Talk to your healthcare provider about your risk and what you can do to prevent infection.
If you are pregnant in your third trimester, you are at increased risk for severe coccidioidomycosis. Talk to your healthcare provider about your risk and what you can do to prevent infection.
If you are traveling in a region that is endemic for Coccidioides, such as the southwestern United States, Mexico, or South America, particularly if you will be in very dusty environments, you could be at risk for infection. If you have questions about your travel risk, talk to your healthcare provider.
Once a person gets coccidioidomycosis, their body develops immunity to protect against future infections. However, sometimes after getting better you can have a relapse of infection. If this happens, it is important to see your healthcare provider to discuss possible treatment.
No, coccidioidomycosis is not known to spread from person to person or from people to animals.
Yes, pets can sometimes get coccidioidomycosis. Talk to your veterinarian about your pet's risk.
If you live in a region with Coccidioides in the environment, you may be exposed to the fungus. It is very difficult to prevent exposure to Coccidioides. If you develop symptoms of coccidioidomycosis, contact your healthcare provider.
If you think you have had an exposure to Coccidioides at work or in a laboratory, you should contact the Occupational Health, Infection Control, Risk Management, or Safety/Security Department at your place of work or laboratory. If your place of work or laboratory does not have these services, then you should contact your local city, county, or state health department. Click here for published recommendations about what to do in the event of a laboratory exposure:
There is no research showing the effectiveness of post-exposure treatment to prevent infection. However, if you do develop an infection, treatment is available and usually effective. If you develop symptoms of coccidioidomycosis, contact your healthcare provider.
It is very difficult to avoid exposure to Coccidioides, but people who live in endemic regions should try to avoid dusty environments if possible. People who are at risk for severe disease can take the following measures to avoid exposure.
- Wear an N95 mask if you must be in or near a dusty environment, such as a construction zone
- Avoid activities that involve close contact to dust including yard work, gardening, and digging
- Use air quality improvement measures indoors such as HEPA filters
- Take prophylactic anti-fungal medication if deemed necessary by your healthcare provider
- Clean skin injuries well with soap and water, especially if they have been exposed to soil or dust
Currently, there is no vaccine available to prevent coccidioidomycosis; however, several research agencies are working to develop a vaccine.
Coccidioidomycosis is under public health surveillance. It is reportable – meaning the physician needs to report it to public health authorities – in 15 states. Disease reporting helps government officials and healthcare providers understand how and why outbreaks occur, and measure increases or decreases in disease occurrences. Public health agencies are also funding and conducting research to help find a vaccine for coccidioidomycosis.