Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)
Occupational safety and health consideration for clinical microbiology laboratories
Clinical microbiology laboratories are an important setting for work-related risk of coccidioidomycosis. Cultures of Coccidioides that initially appear as unknown fungal cultures grown from clinical specimens are a risk. Such cultures can form arthroconidia after as few as four days and pose a risk for airborne transmission. All unknown fungal cultures in clinical laboratories should be handled as though they were Coccicioides. They should never be opened outside of a biological safety cabinet appropriate for the organism. This is particularly important for those grown from clinical specimens of patients who have been in endemic areas. Laboratories should have comprehensive prevention plans in place to protect laboratory workers.1
- Stevens DA, Clemons KV, Levine HB, Pappagianis D, Baron EJ, Hamilton JR, Deresinski SC, Johnson N . Expert opinion: what to do when there is Coccidioides exposure in a laboratory. Clin Infect Dis. Sep 15;49(6):919-23. doi: 10.1086/605441. PubMed PMID: 19663562.