Fungus That Causes Fatal Illness Found In WA State But No Need F - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Fungus That Causes Fatal Illness Found In WA State But No Need For Worry

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KHQ's Nichole Mischke spoke with Kim Papich with the Spokane Regional Health District and it she provided additional context around the WSU release. WSU recently tested soil in central Washington state and detected the fungus that, when inhaled, can cause Valley Fever.

Three individuals from central Washington were diagnosed with Valley Fever in 2010-2011—two cases in 2010 and a case in 2011 and all were likely exposed to the fungus in Washington state.

The illness cannot be spread from human-to-human or animal-to-human. It is only contracted if contaminated soil is inhaled.

Most people who are exposed to the fungus do not develop symptoms, or have very mild flu-like symptoms that go away on their own. Some people may develop a more severe infection, especially those who have a weakened immune system, are of African-American or Filipino descent, or are pregnant in their third trimester.

Symptoms of Valley Fever include:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Rash on upper trunk or extremities
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain in the knees or ankles
Symptoms may appear between one and three weeks after exposure to the fungus. If symptoms last for more than a week, contact your health care provider.

Valley Fever is a notifiable condition in Washington state, which means that if a person is diagnosed with it, local public health will be notified.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - A fungus that can launch a fatal illness has been found for the first time in the soil of Washington.
    
Officials for Washington State University say the fungus can cause an illness called valley fever. The fungus is normally found in semiarid parts of the Southwest.
    
Valley fever occurs when the soil-dwelling fungus becomes airborne, releasing spores that get lodged in the lungs of humans and certain animals, especially dogs.
    
The Centers for Disease Control estimates it kills 160 people a year.
    
Three unrelated cases were diagnosed in Eastern Washington in 2010-11.
    
Scientists for Washington State say that soil samples taken recently from the vicinity tested positive for the fungus, proving it can survive here. All three people who got sick in Eastern Washington survived.

For more information on this illness including a list of symptoms, click here: http://tinyurl.com/mf5dtmo

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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