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Coccidioidomycosis commonly known as “cocci” or “valley fever” as well as “California fever” and “San Joaquin Valley fever” is a fungal disease.that is sometimes claimed to be an industrial injury especially among construction workers or those exposed to newly excavated work sties.

It is endemic in certain parts of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and northern Mexico. It is dormant during long dry spells, then develops as a mold with long filaments that break off into airborne spores when the rains come. The spores, known as arthroconidia, are swept into the air by disruption of the soil, such as during construction, farming, or an earthquake.

Infection is caused by inhalation of the particles. The disease is not transmitted from person to person. The infection ordinarily resolves leaving the patient with a specific immunity to re-infection. However, in some cases the infection may manifest itself repeatedly or permanently over the life of the patient. In those cases the industrial claim may be costly.

The U.S. national public health institute Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called the disease a “silent epidemic” and acknowledged that there is no proven anticoccidioidal vaccine available.

And now a new CDC report shows an increase in California hospitalizations for Coccidioidomycosis over the last decade. Only 719 cases were reported annually in 1998. The annual number showed a steady increase up through 2011 when 5697 cases were reported. The incidence rate per 100,000 population increased from 2.1 in 1998 to a record of 14.9 in 2011 as well.

Similar increases were reported in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.