Recovery and Treatment
Valley Fever has a wide spectrum of illness. Some people infected will have chronic illness, sometimes it will wax and wane, some recover in weeks, some initially will not even know they were infected at all, and some will lose their lives to this disease. Some patients may not need antifungal drugs for a recovery, others will need antifungals for months, and others may be prescribed lifelong antifungal therapy.
Although it is almost never reported to the general public, medical journals show that Valley Fever cases can appear to recover fully and then reactivate. It is even possible that some will have their Valley Fever become dormant, only to have it reactivate months, years, and even decades later to cause surgeries, amputations, and even death. Medical citations in Valley Fever Epidemic attest to this. Yet the very fact that an immune component exists once people are infected with Valley Fever is the basis of the ongoing vaccine projects. With so much variation in every person’s case, it is difficult to say how soon or completely any specific person will recover.
There is no cure. The production rights to a proposed cure, nikkomycin Z, had been bounced from one pharmaceutical company to another since the 1970’s. In all the years that passed, the Valley Fever problem worsened by leaps and bounds but this drug has still not been given sufficient funding for complete scientific testing. We believe a cure will only be fully funded when the general public understands how devastating Valley Fever truly is.
In the absence of a cure, some patients will need strong antifungal drugs. These help reduce the level of fungus in the body to give the immune system some assistance and time to fight the disease. Fluconazole and itraconazole have been the most commonly used drugs since the 1990’s and can be taken in pill form. Other pills, voriconazole and posaconazole, are newer and more powerful but less frequently prescribed. Isavuconazole is occasionally prescribed but is so new it has virtually no Valley Fever track record.
Amphotericin B is regarded as more powerful and has been around since the 1950’s. When other drugs fail, amphotericin B is delivered directly into the cererbrospinal fluid to help patients with severe manifestations of Valley Fever like meningitis. Amphotericin B tends to have even more severe side effects, earning the nickname “Ampho-terrible” although all the drugs taken in pill form have dangerous side effects as well.
Of the pills taken by Valley Fever patients, voriconazole may have the most prominent side effects and Valley Fever patients have told us they experience fewer or less severe side effects with posaconazole than any other antifungal drug they had been on.
Valley Fever Survivor is at the forefront of technological breakthroughs. From first hearing of its approval for this purpose in 2006, VFS was and remains the only organization to share information about posaconazole with patients. VFS described circumstances where patients might ask doctors whether they would benefit from this antifungal drug. Not only have we been told we saved lives, but in particular we heard the story of one little girl who benefited from our work: While suffering with her Valley Fever she also had crippling daily stomach pains and nausea due to her fluconazole treatment. The medication made her too sick to eat. When the girl’s mother saw our information and conferred with the doctor about possibly switching the antifungal medication to posaconazole, the doctor decided to try it. Her daughter was pain free and able to eat again within 24-48 hours. Her mother said it was wonderful to see her smiling instead of crying.
In the course of David Filip’s research into this disease, certain aspects of Valley Fever’s harmful effects on the body were also recognized as the exact opposite of the beneficial biochemical effects of certain foods. This gave us the idea that some foods could be used to counteract the problems caused by Valley Fever and we dug further into the research. Our founder Sharon Filip (who nearly died from her case of Valley Fever) applied this research to her diet with great results. On hearing this, members of our Valley Fever Survivor Support Group also followed a VFS-customized supplementation and food plan based on using specific foods to work against specific effects of Valley Fever. They achieved excellent results as well. Learn more at our health and wellness page.