California reports record number of Valley fever cases in 2023
Coccidioidomycosis cases are higher than any other year since it became individually reportable in California in 1995
California health authorities report an increase in Valley fever, or coccidiomycosis cases in 2023, in fact, the 9,280 total (provisional) cases are higher than the final case count in any other year since coccidioidomycosis cases became individually reportable in the state in 1995.
Last year’s provisional total of 9,280 cases is 25 percent higher than the 7,393 cases reported in 2022.
Counties reporting the most cases include Kern (3,067), Los Angeles (1,419) and Fresno (561).
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reports the increase in reported coccidioidomycosis cases is likely to continue throughout this winter due to heavy rainfall in the winter of 2022-2023 after years of drought.
Although the Central Valley continues to have the highest rates of coccidioidomycosis, the geographic distribution of coccidioidomycosis in California appears to be shifting, with notable increases in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast, and Southern California.
Health officials say the distribution and burden of Coccidioides within California may be due to climate change.
Coccidioidomycosis (also called Valley fever or “cocci”) is a disease caused by inhalation of the spores of the Coccidioides fungus that grows in the soil and dirt in some areas of the southwestern United States, with 97% of cases reported in Arizona and California.
Anyone who lives, works, or travels in areas where Coccidioides is present can become infected, particularly people exposed to dirt and dust outdoors. Coccidioidomycosis may be asymptomatic but typically presents as a self-limited respiratory illness or pneumonia. Patients may also present with erythema nodosum. However, infection can also lead to progressive pulmonary disease or severe disseminated disease including meningitis and can be fatal.
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