Up until last month I had never heard of Valley Fever. Until a week ago I completely forgot about it.
If you follow Spartacus the Dachshund you know that him and his Daddy stayed for a month in Arizona. On their road trip back his Daddy called me and said Spartacus wasn’t feeling well – acting “off”, lethargic and panting. His symptoms got worse and he was eventually taken to the vet where they diagnosed him with pneumonia.
I can’t imagine how he could have gotten it. Then I vaguely remember Spartacus’ Daddy mentioning that something in the dust down there that can make you sick. I looked it up and it is called Valley Fever.
Valley Fever is caused by fungi in the dust in desert regions – especially Arizona and the San Joaquin Valley of California. It can also be found in other areas of Southern California, Utah, Texas and New Mexico. You can get the disease from inhaling the spores. Valley Fever is known to affect humans, dogs and cats.
That is right, you can get this disease just from BREATHING! People and animals are more susceptible when they are around disturbed soil such as getting caught in a dust storm, HIKING, biking or digging.
Apparently the incidence of Valley Fever is on the rise. According to the Southern Arizona Humane Society (see page 11), “Valley Fever is perhaps the most common chronic infectious disease we see in the dogs that come to the [shelter]. Its prevalence in our shelter dogs surpasses even tick fever and heartworm disease.”
Yikes! Ok, I told myself to not totally freak out. I am sure only a small percentage of the millions of people and pets living in and visiting the endemic areas contract the disease. Of that percentage, some show no symptoms or get over it on their own.
However, if you or your pet contract the disease, it is not uncommon to have more severe, ongoing problems that require months to a lifetime of treatment. It is a good idea to know what to watch for if you live in or are visiting one of these areas.
It does sound pretty scary to me. I can’t believe that Valley Fever is considered epidemic in these areas and it is so easy to get. If you live there, there seems no way to avoid it. I have heard mixed things but most say that even a dust mask won’t help. I love the southwest and deserts. I have dreamed of taking a road trip there and hiking with Chester and Gretel. At the moment, I am having second thoughts.
OK, so maybe I am freaking out a little about it 🙂
We have featured Spartacus on our blog before as a Guest Adventureweiner. We have had him come stay at our house for a week. We have taken many hikes with him and been on many play dates. We are really worried about our friend Sparty.
We don’t know if Spartacus actually has Valley Fever yet. He had some blood tests and we are all waiting to hear the results. If he does, he could be in for a long road of treatment and recovery – which can be very costly. Spartacus and his Daddy are experiencing some hard times right now so if Spartacus does have it we are going to create a ChipIn or other donation account for him.
We will keep you posted.
Like I said, I have never heard of Valley Fever before. Have you heard of it or know someone who has it?
Go to Valley Fever Survivor for more information (mostly based on Humans but a lot of the information also applies to pets) on the disease.
We are participating in the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop over at Life With Dogs. Stop By to say hi and discover all of the other great blogs partipating.