Often considered a “silent epidemic,” valley fever officially infected 22,000 Americans in 2011 — most of them in California and Arizona — but some think the numbers are much higher.
It’s an infection that can wreak havoc on the lungs, heart, bones and in some cases the brain. At its worst, it's fatal.
Valley fever is prevalent in hot, dry climates and is thought to spread through contact with soil.
In the past two decades, about 2,000 people have died from it. In one town, the prevalence is so high that a judge ordered 26 prisoners moved from the local jail because they were deemed to be at too high a risk of infection.
Listen to the full interview on NPR.
Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.