Valley Fever clinic opens at Banner-UMC

Valley Fever clinic opens at Banner-UMC

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson now has a new Valley Fever Clinic at Banner-University Medical Center.

Arizona is home to two-thirds of the nation's Valley fever cases. Most of those cases happen from Tucson to Phoenix.

Dr. John Galgiani heads the University of Arizona Valley Fever Center for Excellence and now also will be at the new Valley Fever Clinic.

Valley fever is a fungal infection that happens when a person inhales spores that live in the soil of the desert southwest.

Galgiani said the majority of cases are so mild, many don't even know they are sick. However, a small percentage of patients become very very sick and require long-term treatment.

Dogs also can get Valley fever.

There is no vaccine to prevent the disease, but University of Arizona scientists are working on one for people and for dogs.

Galgiani said the once-a-week clinic is expected to help the community in a few ways.

"It's really a place for people who have a new diagnosis or who've had an existing diagnosis of Valley fever that need either a second opinion or need care with that illness to have a place to go, to have that be addressed, and determining how much or how little you need in the way of medical care," Galgiani said.

He says there is sometimes a delay in diagnosis while patients are treated for something else.

So awareness is key.

"State data shows that people who know about Valley fever before they get sick get a diagnosis correctly faster than people who don't know about Valley Fever before they get sick," Galgiani said. "And it's as if they asked their doctors, 'Don't you think you should test me for this?' So you can feel free to ask your doctor, if your doctor thinks you have pneumonia, ask him if it might be Valley fever."

Galgiani hopes to expand clinic hours in Tucson and that more clinics will be opened in other parts of the state, especially Phoenix.

The Valley Fever Center for Excellence website has more information on Valley fever in people and in pets and the clinic is open Friday mornings. The number to call for an appointment is (520) 694-8888.

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