Coccidiosis or coccidiomycosis is also referred to as San Joaquin Valley fever or Valley fever. About 60% of cases remain asymptomatic and are only diagnosed by means of a positive skin test.
Of the remaining 40% affected with this disorder, symptoms vary from severe to mild. More serious infections tend to develop in those whose immune system is compromised from AIDS or cancer. Those with AIDS are especially prone to pulmonary infections with coccidiomycosis, involvement of the skin and disseminated, or widely spread, disease.
The disease can have several forms. It may appear in an acute phase and chronic phase and in the disseminated form.
Acute pulmonary coccidioidomycosis is almost always mild, with few or no symptoms. After exposure, symptoms appear in 7 to 21 days. Acute coccidioidomycosis is rare. It usually resolves itself without treatment.
The onset of chronic pulmonary coccidioidomycosis is variable. It can develop 20 or more years after initial infection which may not have been recognized, diagnosed, or treated at the time.
Lung abscesses can form and rupture. Pus can collect between the lungs and the chest wall, forming an empyema.
In the disseminated form of the disease, the infection may spread to the bones, lungs, liver, meninges, brain, skin, heart, and pericardium. Meningitis occurs in about half of the disseminated cases.
Patients whose immune system has been compromised may have rapid deterioration and death.
Causes of Coccidiomycosis
Coccidiodomycosis is a disease caused by the spores of the fungus, Coccidioides immitis.
Infection is caused by inhalation of the spores of the fungus, Coccidioides immitis, which is often found in desert regions.
Signs and Symptoms of Coccidiomycosis
Many cases, particularly the mild ones, may have no symptoms. Common symptoms include chest pain, fever, chills and night sweats. Patients may cough up blood in the sputum.
Headaches, muscle aches, pains and stiffness may occur. A red, painful rash may develop, particularly on the legs.
Chronic exposure is associated with weight loss and loss of appetite.
Arthritic pain, joint pain, joint swelling may also occur
Involvement of the brain can lead to confusion and severe headaches and stiff neck.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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