The numbers might surprise you. In Arizona this year, there have been 134 reported e coli cases, 748 salmonella cases, 72 cases of the West Nile virus, and…..get this….4,957 reported cases of valley fever (according to the Arizona Department of Health Services).
A recent KVOA-TV story called Southern Arizona “ground zero” for valley fever and reported that “two out of every three cases contracted in the US happen right here in the state.”
Several recent developments have grabbed headlines in the fight against valley fever. For example, Tucson.com recently wrote about a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sensor that is being developed to detect levels of the cocci fungus in the air and soil.
“It’ll be a huge tool to put in our tool box,” said Kirt Emery, a Kern County Department of Public Health Services epidemiologist, who quickly rattled off all the ways that technology could prevent cocci’s spread in the nation’s most impacted regions.
The devices could confirm whether cocci is stirred up by construction and agriculture, as experts have for years suspected. During storms, a color-coded air quality alert could be issued just for cocci. If the technology is advanced enough, fungus from Sharktooth Hill, a valley fever hotspot in California, could be traced to see how far it travels on windy days. Eventually, a mass alert could be developed that pings cellphones when people enter certain regions on high-risk days.
According to the report, the hope is to put the sensors into wider use over the next few years.
Below is from the Sonora Quest website.
Tucson.com also wrote about a new valley fever skin test called Spherusol which can “detect whether a person has developed natural immunity, meaning they’ve overcome valley fever before.” However, the report points out it is not in wide use because “the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved Spherusol for testing immunity. Instead, the test is supposed to be used by clinicians only after a person has been diagnosed with the disease.”
Share your thoughts on some of the progress being made to battle valley fever in our state. Generating meaningful conversations around the health issues that affect Arizonans is a critical piece of our long-term goal to make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!