Valley fever: A potential serious health risk from Phoenix ‘haboob’

July 27, 2014

A massive dust storm, or in Arabic “haboob”, some 3,000 feet tall and 30 miles wide hit Phoenix, Arizona Friday forcing a ground stop at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and leaving 12,000 people without power. 

Now health officials will be on the look out for the sometimes-lethal fungal infection in the affected population called Coccidioidomycosis, or Valley fever.

Valley fever is caused by a fungus found in the soil of much of the southwest United States.

People get infected with the fungus Coccidioides immitis by inhaling fungal spores that become airborne after disturbance of contaminated soil by humans or natural disasters like a dust storm.

In an endemic area like Arizona, up to 50% of residents will have already been exposed to this mold.

Read more on The Global Dispatch.

Photo courtesy of CDC.