Communicable Disease Article

Communicable Disease Article

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HCS/457

Communicable Disease Article

There are countless communicable diseases around the world. A communicable disease that has and continues to affect my community is called Coccidioidomycosis but is also known as Valley Fever. According to “U.S. National Library of Medicine” (2018), “Valley Fever is a disease caused by a fungus (or mold) called Coccidioides” (Valley Fever). The “Arizona Department of Health Services” (n.d.) website stated that Coccidioidomycosis is known to be the second most reported illness in Arizona with a record of over seven thousand cases every year. In the year of 2017, there were a total of 6,885 cases reported to the CDC from the state of Arizona alone but that does not cover all the individuals who might have been misdiagnosed. According to “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”(2019), In highly endemic areas such as the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas of Arizona, Valley fever causes an estimated 15% to nearly 30% of community-acquired pneumonias, but low testing rates suggest that Valley fever is probably under-recognized” (How common is Valley fever?).

Valley Fever does not have a preference in host as anyone can be affected, however some people are at higher risk than others. The people who are at higher risk of being affected by the Valley Fever are adults mainly over the age of sixty, employees with exposure to soil dust such as construction workers or agricultural workers, pregnant women in the third trimester, African Americans and Asians, or individuals that have a weak immune system. Individuals who enjoy outdoor activities in the desert such as biking or hiking are also at a higher risk of exposure to being affected by Valley Fever (“Arizona Department of Health Services”, n.d.).

Valley Fever is not a disease that an individual can directly contaminate another individual, it is acquired by breathing in or inhaling the spores of the Coccidioides. Areas more susceptible with Valley Fever are the southwestern United States such as Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and south-central Washington, some parts of Mexico, and South America (“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”, 2019). Environmental factors related to Valley Fever are endemic areas in which have hot, dry climates. Public health agencies work together in order to spread more information about Valley Fever to educate the community in the importance of early detection and treatment. Cases are being recorded and data is collected by the state health departments in order to keep a close eye on the communicable disease. Research is also being conducted to determine what is the best treatment as there is no vaccine for the time being. Clinical trials are being conducted to try intervention treatments such as Sertraline and a possible vaccine called the RVF Vaccine (U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d.). Valley Fever is detected by blood tests, x-rays, CT scans, tissue biopsy, cultures or skin testing and is currently being treated by antifungal medication.

Public health departments should spread out more information about Valley Fever and spread out awareness on the causes, signs or symptoms, and what to do if a person believes they have visited an infected area. Also, the community should be aware of the fact that some pneumonia diagnosis could actually be Valley Fever instead and need to know how to tell the difference between the two in order to avoid a misdiagnosis. In spreading out more information and educating the community, people can be more alert and responsive to any out of the ordinary symptoms they are feeling and can find methods of prevention such as using face masks when encountering dust storms, hiking, biking, or even gardening. In educating the public with more transparent information, people will seek medical attention quicker if necessary and receive treatment.

References

Arizona Department of Health Services(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.azdo.gov/Files/AZInfectiousDisease.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/coccidioidomycosis/causes.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/coccidioidomycosis/statistics.html

U.S. National Library of Medicine (n.d.). Retrieved from https://clinicaltrials.gov/search/open/condition=%22Coccidioidomycosis%22

U.S. National Library of Medicine (2018). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/valleyfever.html