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Old 03-31-2015, 12:16 AM   #15
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If you have lived in or even traveled through the Central Valley of California you have most likely been exposed to Valley Fever. The great majority of people never have any symptoms at all. A few have problems as noted above. In very rare cases it can be fatal. Our son was such a case. After living in the agricultural community of Walnut Grove for 20+ years he became ill. The valley fever progressed through various stages, the final stage being sever hydrosyphalis (water on the brain) which finally took him from us. Mind you, this is extremely rare.

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Old 03-31-2015, 04:25 AM   #16
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Good information to have.

Hope you get well soon, Ray.


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Old 03-31-2015, 09:47 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by dznf0g View Post
Same kind of fungal type thing in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys...called Hystoplasmosis.

I recently had pain in my right lung and got my FIRST chest x-ray. It showed a dark, well defined mass in the lower lobe. I, of course, freaked. It was diagnosed as a hystoplasmosis granuloma.....I freaked again, until they asked if I ever spent time on a farm in the valley.....uh, yes, all my life.

They said I probably thought I had the flu as a child but it was a fungal infection and has since calcified and irritates the lung tissue. No biggie and most farmers have one or more. Sounds awful, but is nothing but an inconvenience.
Histoplasmosis is a fungus found in the dirt under some trees, overhangs, etc. It comes from bird and bat droppings that mix with the soil and go airborne when disturbed by construction, people or winds. My older brother suffered from it for quite a while back in the early 60s. It's very nasty

Is it also known as
cave disease
Darling's disease
Ohio valley disease
spelunkerís lung
caver's disease

Ohio valley also has something locally referred to as the OVC, Ohio Valley Crud. It's actually allergies from all the tree pollen in the spring followed by mold allergies. It's a hacking cough that never goes away and sometimes feels like a chest cold.

People moving here from other areas think they've come down with a cold, but this area (Louisville, Frankfort, Lexington) is known for being the absolute worst for allergies. If you've never had allergies before, come visit us in a month for the treat of a lifetime.

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Old 03-31-2015, 01:26 PM   #18
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I also had "valley fever" and lived in the Phoenix area for several years. Took 2 heavy duty doses of medications to knock it and even afterwards it was over a year before my lungs went back to normal. It's horrible I'm sorry to say and YOU can get it twice!!! I'm pretty sure I had it about 15 years ago - same scenario in that we spent 3 weeks camping in the desert however my doctor in California asked the right question and diagnosed it right away. Hope you feel better!!
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Old 03-31-2015, 01:52 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Jim Foster View Post
If you have lived in or even traveled through the Central Valley of California you have most likely been exposed to Valley Fever. The great majority of people never have any symptoms at all. A few have problems as noted above. In very rare cases it can be fatal. Our son was such a case. After living in the agricultural community of Walnut Grove for 20+ years he became ill. The valley fever progressed through various stages, the final stage being sever hydrosyphalis (water on the brain) which finally took him from us. Mind you, this is extremely rare.

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I'm so sorry that you had to go through the loss of your's the worst thing any parent can experience. My heart goes out to you and thank you for sharing such valuable insight. Blessings to you.
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Old 03-31-2015, 03:13 PM   #20
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Oral Fluconzole is not really a big deal, we ladies take this if we have a yeast infection. The common name is Diflucan and you can even get it over the counter now. No side effects any time I have had to take it.
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Old 03-31-2015, 03:17 PM   #21
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Here in Ontario something like 60% of the population show antibodies to histoplasmosis.
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Old 03-31-2015, 04:16 PM   #22
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Valley Fever

Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
We had a little fun with the "chiggers" on an earlier thread, which is something we can have some control over prevention and the eventual cure.

Valley Fever... this is real.

We spent nearly five weeks in Tucson, Quartzite, Arizona and Las Vegas, Boulder City, Nevada this January to February. At Lake Mead, NV just outside Boulder City is a great campground at $5 a day for Senior National Park card holders. Not full hookup, but water and restrooms were available at the campground.

There was a period of several days of drizzle. The third day and afterward the dead appearing desert gravels began to turn green. Grass had germinated and began to poke out where it appeared lifeless. Well, so did some invisible to me, at least, FUNGUS. The "cocci fungus"

At first it appeared I had caught a upper respiratory infection. You feel a bit off and then you begin to cough, your lungs get congested. After four days you try to speak and you cough. If you have not had this before, as I never experienced it, you expect a cold virus and wait it out. My wife never showed a sign of contracting the "virus". This "cold" never left my chest to my sinuses.

The "cough, fever, sweat" come in regular daily cycles... AFTER the major episode of coughing thick mucus, when lucky. Google "Valley Fever Southwest" for symptoms. The fever feels like your head had a mild sunburn, my temperature was 100.4 degrees.

I recalled a former neighbor who moved to Tucson, Arizona for the winter and Colorado in the summer.. He said he had this cold that just would not go away on one return home to Colorado. The local Denver, Colorado doctors could not figure it out. My neighbor's wife did... Valley Fever. I diagnosed myself and am going into to see the doctor tomorrow, AM. This stuff does not seem to give up.

IF you are not a resident of the Southwest USA and visited, picked up a "cold and persistent cough"... check your symptoms against those from your Google search. I have not had the flu nor a cold for thirty years. This is my first experience with Valley Fever and I am at a chronic 85% to 90% normal. The shortness of breath I attributed to coming from 1500 feet elevation back to 6500 feet, but thought it strange this happened so easily... but it is probably my irritated lungs.

Are there other regional illnesses that we Airstreamers should be aware? This Valley Fever is one that is easily confused with a virus. Probably from my walking the dogs every morning in the gravels and bare ground, as well as prodding around looking for shiny stones to take home. This stuff... at least for me, will be taken care of immediately if I get the first "cold symptoms" again.
Thank you for the posting and the information, we hope you got your treatment by now and on the way of recovery. For some of us that suffer of allergies this is something of concern since we are planning in visiting the Southwest in the next few days. Catalina park, Benson, Chiricahua state park, and some range of elevations around Globe Az. We actually have been recently in Tucson ,Quartszite, etc. And I wonder now about this Valley fever. My question to you is how did you catch this fungus? Where you is some caves? Where youu picking some rocks or touched some rocks infected? it is airborne?
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:10 PM   #23
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Regional diseases

The original poster also asked what other regional diseases we need to be aware of... none are as ubiquitous as the fungal infections already discussed, but there are many vector borne diseases with regional prevalence. Tick borne rickettsial diseases (lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) are more common in the East but can be picked up anywhere. Ditto for West Nile from mosquitoes, and of course malaria is again being spread from infected individuals. Chiggers are a misery but least are not disease vectors.
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Old 04-02-2015, 12:10 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Ntex View Post
What is the cure?

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In Tucson the mountains face to the west, so when the sun starts to go down, the mountain side turns a pinkish color. That's why the locals all say,"When the mountains turn pink, it's time to drink". No more Valley Fever.
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:29 AM   #25
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The last week of January thru early March we spent time at the Tucson, AZ Rock Show, Quartzite Rock Show, AZ and three weeks in Henderson, NV at Sam's Town RV Park and a couple weeks at Lake Meade, just outside of Boulder City, NV camped. I could have picked this up at any one of these places. I suspect Lake Meade as there were two days of drizzle and the desert began to turn "green with fresh grass" growing from where there was just rock and grit. Great time for a fungus to thrive as well. Humid and warm weather.

After three or four days of congestion in the chest, it felt like a chest cold... but the recovery time was running into weeks and then several months of a chronic cough that eventually became just a dry cough. A virus would have been probably easier for me to recover from. After, and I estimate as I never thought of writing down a date of when I felt a bit off, possible nine to ten weeks went into to see the doctor.

You would feel fine in the morning, develop the dry cough later that morning, about 7PM get a low grade fever and in the middle of the night a cold sweat. The symptoms began to mediate, but the dry cough was persistent. That really would get to you from the aspect of trying to communicate and the cough began. My wife did not get it, so that is when a virus was ruled out, but you must understand that neither of us get sick to this point.

I was given Albuterol Salbutamol HFA Inhaler- oral (Proventil HFA/ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA) to prevent wheezing, shortness of breath and open breathing passages. I am NEVER short of breath, but was finding that I had to breath shallow to prevent coughing. My lung capacity is very large compared to an average person, working hard at digging rock at high elevations for red blood cell count and lung capacity to sustain my... digging.

Prednisone- oral (Deltasone) for breathing problems and to reduce my immune system and swelling. It was a pill. Rather nasty tasting if you did not wash it down quickly.

X-rays showed no lung damage.
Blood test results showed well within normal.
The blood test for the "fungus" exposure is due and coming.

The medication has cut my coughing "fits" considerably. This might have been a ten to twelve WEEK recovery for me. The treatment for the fungus, if everything else fails, takes a long time and supervision at the clinic. I guess this is for the 5% that have no other choice.

Reading the Prescription Information sheets go on and on, but seem to cover everything you can imagine. I would prefer the FLU to this, any day. The flu I had decades ago was miserable, but in ten days I was 100%.

I have caved in Missouri. Dug rocks throughout the western USA. I was exposed to mold/mildew in a closed up building sorting geology books to buy three or four years ago, which was also a coughing / congestion that lasted weeks from Oklahoma. I was given oral antibiotics that seemed to help, but it took months to get back to 100%.

Fungi obviously is my weak point in my immune system. Viruses I can handle. Bacteria... just have been lucky, I guess.

So, sorry for the length, but this is a comprehensive report and for those who suspect you have a viral chest cold that goes on... forever, have you been exposed to a fungus? Your lungs are perfect for mushrooms and fungi. Since I have allergies, my immune system is very active towards anything. At least a bonus with this aspect, but the fungus just does not give up. And, this is not 100% certain until the blood results are reported.

I drink 48 to 60 ounces of water a day. Six feet tall, 178 pounds resulting from enjoying splitting wood for our fire place, to lugging out 80 pounds of agate through the deserts or woods. Not a couch bound overweight. Two Blue Heelers that get a 1.5 mile hike at 6500 feet elevation at home, every day, rain, shine, blizzard or cold above 25 degrees. If this can put me in my place... just be careful. Nearly three months.

We leave for New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada tomorrow for more adventures. I want to remember this, but do not want to repeat it.
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:49 AM   #26
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Really sorry about your tragic loss.

As said, the fungals affect different people in differing degrees from not at all to persistent, long term lung damage (or worse). That said, I'm sure concentration, conditions don't help help.

The conspiracy theory is that the Tourism interest has downplayed it's prevalence in the midwest. Like lime disease or the brain eating ameoba, it doesn't make for good copy in the real estate or other brochure.

Like lime disease it seems to be nebulus, with many unknowing real sufferers and an equal contingent of hypochondriacs who hang the blame for various complaints on the disease.

Diflucan (flucanazole) used to be a prescription medicine used to prevent opportunistic infection in AIDS patients and those with otherwise compromised immune systems. It's probably not great for your liver in huge doses.

DiFlucan is OTC now, for yeast infections, because it is oral, easy, works like carpet bombing,and that's a big market for ladies who don't like creams. (including people that don't even have yeast infections. But if I was personally worried, dust cough, etc I'd pop one after travelling through the affected regions. **I'm not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Talk to a doctor, don't do what I do.**

Nuking all the fungus (or bacteria ala CIPRO) is probably not something you want to do often.

Or you could go to a GP in the area and he may or may not be up on this anyways. The doctors have been lectured day and night about antibiotic resistance and they're probably slightly afraid to recommend over prescribing for fear of antifungal resistance. I'd rather err on the side of my interests than a hypothetical community drug resistance in 50 years.
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:49 AM   #27
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I'm pretty sure we had this two years ago when in Tucson. First my wife got sick and a few days later I succumbed - we thought we had bad colds of flu. After a couple of weeks, we
went to a walk in clinic and the nurse practitioner put us on prednisone and some antibiotics.

He didn't mention anything about Valley fever and we knew nothing about it at the time. The symptoms still persisted for several more weeks and even after 6 weeks when we were back home we still were not completely back to normal.

It was only after we got home that I came across an article about Valley fever and the symptoms sounded much like what we had had.

I discussed it wit our family doc when we got home (who seemed very surprised we had been given prednisone) and he had never heard of Valley fever but was quite interested !

Subsequently, in renewing our travel insurance I had to indicate to the insurance company that we had been given prednisone - we didn't put in a claim at the time as the cost was minimum.

They got all bent out of shape about this and insisted we get letters from our Doc confirming that we did not have chronic lung conditions. Even when he prepared such letters it took a month or more to get things sorted out with them - a big hassle!

Brian & Connie Mitchell

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Old 04-03-2015, 10:49 AM   #28
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Good follow up report Ray. Thanks for informing us about this risk that many RVers face when wintering in the desert southwest.
Sounds like you have a good handle on treatment. Just got to wait out the recovery time. Glad to hear this is not holding you back from ongoing adventures, even if they are a little limited for a while.

I would like to hear more about your rock hound activities if you care to share.
Best finds, fun adventures in the quest etc.

Cheers Richard

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