Gag Me With A Fungus: (San Joaquin) Valley Girls

I was happily surprised to find a long and informative article by Dana Goodyear on Cocciodiomycosis in the January 20, 2014 issue of The New Yorker. The piece is focused on the impact this infectious disease has had on California's San Joaquin Valley from which its second name, Valley Fever, is derived. 

This disease, caused by the fungi Coccidioides immitis, can cause a wide spectrum of illness ranging from asymptomatic infection to pneumonia to fulminant life threatening presentations, including meningitis. Goodyear importantly mentions the fact that the organism was considered as a potential bioweapon and was, until recently, considered a Select Agent--a designation that prompts a high degree of oversight by the government. 

I find several aspects of Cocciodiomycosis to be fascinating including its temporal association with earthquakes (which kicks up its spores), the varied symptoms elicited, and the predisposition Fillipinos have for severe cases.

Living and practicing medicine in Pittsburgh (The Mon and Ohio River Valleys), Cocciodiomycosis and the San Joaquin Valley are thousands of miles of away however, because patients travel, I have considered the diagnosis in select patients.