Signs of Valley Fever are increasing in pets throughout Arizona, New Mexico, southwestern Texas and the central deserts of California. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, around 30-60% of people who live in these endemic areas are exposed to the fungus at some point in their lives, meaning your pet has the same likelihood of exposure as you do.
Caused by inhaling a fungus found in soil, Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis) initially infects the lungs of your pet and may disseminate to other areas of the body such as to the organs and bones. Your pets may show no signs of infection; however those who cannot naturally fight off the infection will typically exhibit flu-like symptoms. If you notice your pet is lethargic, feverish, coughing, and shows a lack of appetite, have him/her seen by a veterinarian immediately.
“Valley Fever is causing real health problems for many people living in the southwestern United States,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Because fungus particles spread through the air, it’s nearly impossible to completely avoid exposure to this fungus in these hardest-hit states. It’s important that people are aware of Valley Fever if they live in or have travelled to the southwest United States.” Like humans, pets are highly susceptible to inhaling these floating fungus particles, especially if your pet spends large amounts of time outdoors or likes to dig.
This recent increase in Valley Fever could be related to changes in weather, which could impact where the fungus grows and how much of it is circulating; higher numbers of new residents or changes in the way the disease is detected and reported to the states or CDC.
The only way to determine if your pet has in fact contracted Valley Fever is through a full panel blood test. Not every pet that gets Valley Fever requires treatment, but for those pets at risk for more severe forms of infection, it is important they receive an early diagnosis and complete veterinary care.
Now is the time to have your pet tested for Valley Fever. A variety of Arizona animal hospital locations throughout the state will be offering 20% off a full or re-check blood panel with an exam through August 31st. After the exam, you will be advised if screening for valley fever would be recommended for your pet based on history, lifestyle, and exam findings. Click here to find the most convenient veterinarian in your area and check to see if they are offering this promotion.