Doctors say COVID-19 is slowing down Valley Fever diagnosis

Doctors say COVID-19 is slowing down Valley Fever diagnosis

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s natural these days to worry that a cough, fever, and shortness of breath could be COVID-19.

But now that it’s time for Valley Fever to typically peak, there can be a lot of confusion.

Because there’s such a focus on the pandemic right now, some people aren’t getting a diagnosis until weeks, even months after testing negative for the coronavirus and the flu.

That’s why Dr. John Galgiani, director of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence, said it’s important to know the symptoms.

“If the COVID test is negative those patients should be tested for Valley Fever. If they have an illness that they thought might be the coronavirus, they also might have caught coccidioidomycosis,” Galgiani said.

Similar to COVID-19, the symptoms for Valley Fever can range from fatigue, cough, and fever, to muscle and joint aches or pain along with rashes on your body.

It’s important to diagnose it early so you can get the proper treatment you need rather than suffering for a longer period.

This is especially important if you’re older. Doctors said it could potentially mean the difference between life or death.

Despite the number of tests not really increasing across the state though, according to new numbers from the Arizona Department of Health Services, there was a drastic increase in cases in September.

AZHDS reported 1,241 new cases.

Last year, 761 cases were reported in September and just 508 were reported in September of 2018.

Galgiani said the recent increase in cases could be because snowbirds are making their way back to Tucson and they are the more vulnerable population for Valley Fever.

Doctors said it’s still too early to tell if we are on track for a bad season, but there are more spores in the air because this year’s monsoon was so dry.

But experts said the cases we see this year will be affected by last year’s monsoon.

There’s about an 18-month gap.

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