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Has Valley Fever ever touched your life?

Blowing dust timelapse on March 29 from Franklin Mountains weather camera. (KFOX14/CBS4)Thumbnail
Blowing dust timelapse on March 29 from Franklin Mountains weather camera. (KFOX14/CBS4)Thumbnail
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There were lessons we all took from the pandemic especially as it pertains to taking care of our physical and mental health.

We also learned that a virus although invisible to the naked eye, can become larger than all of us.

But now there is a new buzzword being tossed around in the medical and scientific community lately -- fungal spore.

A year and a half ago during the pandemic I reported on a fungal spore identified in El Paso.

It causes a disease that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking cities in the Southwest to start monitoring.

It's called Valley Fever, also known as coccidioidomycosis or “cocci." El Paso recorded 57 cases in 2022.

A lot of people are unaware that this fungal spore circulates in dust.

Unlike Covid-19, Valley Fever is not contagious.

But, it can be deadly if it's not diagnosed.

It can also lead to Spinal Meningitis and cause brain damage.

An environmental expert at The University of Texas at El Paso, Dr. Thomas Gil, is expanding the research to focus more on our region.

He explains this fungal spore can sit dormant in your lungs, sometimes for years, and then one day suddenly brings high temperatures and persistent pneumonia-like symptoms.

What can make it even worse, is that it's not the first thing or even the least thing doctors often test for.

And that means you may have to advocate for yourself -- if nothing seems to be working to make you better and everything else is ruled out.

On Thursday I will share how the research at UTEP has expanded as scientists seek to determine how much dust storms actually affect these spores ending up in our lungs.

But for now, I wonder if maybe Valley Fever isn't really as silent and invisible as it may seem.

Have you or anyone you know ever been diagnosed with Valley Fever?

Do you think you have had it?

Email me at erika.castillo@kfox or post your comments on our Twitter and Facebook posts.

I will share comments on Carpe Diem with you on Thursday and remember to seize the day every day.

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