Nearly a dozen patients at Children’s Hospital Central California were being treated for Valley fever last week, and researchers say a late rainy season and large dust storms may cause a spike in cases of the fungal infection.
One to two inpatients treated for Valley fever at one time is normal, but eight were admitted to Children’s Hospital in May alone, bringing the number to 11 last Friday. In March, the number of Valley fever inpatients at the hospital peaked at 16, hospital officials said.
Valley fever is a flu-like and potentially deadly infection contracted by inhaling airborne spores of the fungus Coccidioides immitis. The spores get tossed into the air from when soils are disturbed by construction, dust storms and earthquakes.
“While last year was a huge year for Valley fever, we’ve been just as busy if not busier this year,” said Dr. James McCarty, Children’s Hospital’s medical director of pediatric infectious disease who has more than 25 years of experience treating Valley fever...