## Valley Fever: The Southwest's Local Secret
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Valley Fever: The Southwest's Local Secret

Everyone looks forward to taking their vacation and having time off from work. Sometimes weeks of discussion go into where the family will be going and which sights will be seen.

Often business travelers need to fly to various parts of the country and spend time away from family and friends.

People often need to relocate due to their jobs.

The desert southwest is attractive for many because of the sun and blue sky. It beckons people to retiree there. After all, haven't most of us heard the desert is good for our health?

Do you have arthritis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, severe joint and bone aches, respiratory problems, headaches that won't stop, and other problems? Have you taken a plane or just driven through, visited, or lived in any of the desert regions such as Arizona, the San Joaquin Valley in California, southern New Mexico, west Texas, parts of Utah, Nevada, and even northwestern Mexico?

If you answered yes to any of these questions or plan to travel in the future there is vital information you need to know.

There is a naturally occurring biohazard that lives in the soil of these regions that can destroy your health, take away your life as you knew it, and even cause death. Impossible you say? Unfortunately, it is very true. The most virulent fungal parasite known to man lives and thrives in the desert soil and causes the incurable disease coccidioidomycosis, commonly called Valley Fever. Since no one has a vested interest in publicizing this local biohazard, its seriousness has been kept a "local secret" by those in the know for decades. Some residents and tourists may have heard the term and may even know someone who has this disease, but few are fully aware of what it truly means to contract Valley Fever.

It usually starts out as if a person has the flu and causes breathing problems, severe pain throughout the body, weight loss (which some would welcome, but not like this) and extreme fatigue to name just a few of the symptoms. The results of this disease can cause people to lose their jobs and health insurance. It breaks up families because it is difficult to diagnose and no one understands what has happened to their family member. Worst of all it can cause one to lose part of their lungs, amputations, unsightly lesions, severe head pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and more.

If you are pregnant you are prone to a severe case if you contract Valley Fever. A terrible tragedy occurs when a young girl who gets Valley Fever has to remain on anti-fungal medicine just to keep it at bay all her life and she is told that she will never be able to become a mother. This fungal parasite can also affect boys and men in their genitals, and no one would want that to happen either.

A once-active, fulfilling life can be altered permanently. In the worst scenario it can cause death, as if often does when it spreads to the brain. To sum it up, this disease is not the souvenir travelers would want to take home, and if you live in this region you don't want it either.

The US government actually has two antiterrorism laws regulating the fungal parasite that causes Valley Fever: The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002.

Please be aware that 65% of all cases are contracted in Arizona and California is second in line. The spores that cause Valley Fever are in the air 365 days a year. All it takes to get sick is inhaling the wrong breath of air when the fungal spores are present. Believe it or not, 15 trillion (15,000,000,000) spores fit into one cubic inch and the inhalation of just one spore can cause a lethal infection. The spores can be carried by the wind to travel and infect someone or their pet up to 500 miles away from the soil where the spores originally grew. It doesn't matter how healthy you were before contracting Valley Fever but rather your health once you already have it.

Just how many people actually come down with Valley Fever? That is a good question because most states are not required to do any case reporting. What I can tell you is that the CDC estimates that only 2% of cases are reported, leaving a whopping 98% either unreported or undiagnosed. Just up to July 2009, approximately 7000 cases were reported to the CDC for the year so far. In Arizona alone 5240 are known and there were 2400 new reported cases just for June and July.

This article is not meant to scare anyone but rather to inform the public as to the danger they might face when visiting these regions. Neither the local politicians nor the CDC give warnings to travelers or even the residents at risk. My mother contracted this disease back in 2001 and nearly died from it. That is when I decided to start researching information about Valley Fever. After being a founding member of www.valleyfeversurvivor.com and making it into the leading Valley Fever patient advocacy organization in the world, I also wrote the book Valley Fever Epidemic. Due to the incredible amount of outdated medical information on the topic, I felt it important to share the most fully researched, up-to-date, and accurate information on the topic.

Become enlightened and empowered so that you can make the best health and life decisions for yourself and your family. Everyone has the right to live or travel wherever they want to -- that is what makes America great. I believe everyone also should have the opportunity to know what could happen when they go to various locations so that they can prepare themselves with the necessary information to make informed decisions.

There is nothing more important than one's health. There still is not a vaccine or a cure for Valley Fever which is why I feel so strongly that funds are needed for research.

Please visit http://special.valleyfeverepidemic.com to learn more about the upcoming bestseller campaign for Valley Fever Epidemic. You are also welcome to sign up for our free E-Newsletter at http://www.valleyfeversurvivor.com/enews.html

David Filip is the co-author of "Valley Fever Epidemic," a co-founder of www.valleyfeversurvivor.com and a tireless advocate for those who suffer from coccidioidomycosis.

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