It’s one of the great health scandals in the history of the Southwest where Valley Fever haunts the very air we breathe. Tests for the fungal infection are unreliable. And, apparently, there’s no breakthrough on the horizon, though I’m told a new drug is being tested in Tucson. But still, if the disease isn’t diagnosed, what good is the drug?
How is it that every single Arizona doctor is not versed on the symptoms in light of inadequate test protocols? Why is it that the fungus Coccidioides, which grows in soil until it gets into the lungs of people (and animals), is allowed to linger and morph into catastrophic illnesses because docs are not on the lookout?
Yes, the symptoms are flu-like, disguising Valley Fever, but doctors should know if a patient is not recovering, over several weeks, to automatically suspect Valley Fever. This is a crippling disease; it can be deadly. Thousands are diagnosed yearly in Arizona, but many others never get confirmation or accurate treatment…public awareness is one thing, but vigilant doctors and emergency centers is another. It’s an outrage; a blight on the medical industry.
…The problem is incomprehensible for those who love our Southwest, who love the outdoors. We can only plead for informed doctors and alert emergency centers, while we wait for refined diagnostic tests.
This guest editorial by former news anchor Linda Turley-Hansen was one of the finest local assessments of Valley Fever ever published in Arizona. It quickly identifies the systemic medical ignorance that makes the public suffer far more from the disease than they could if ignorance and apathy were replaced with knowledge. Although it was written in 2011 this editorial could be published tomorrow and be just as current.
See the entire article: Medicine has yet to get a grip on Valley Fever