A new cause of Valley Fever

More from this show

Scientists are beginning to rethink the way we might be contracting Valley Fever, a common fungal infection that causes pneumonia-like symptoms and affects people the most often in Arizona and California.

Dust storms, or “haboobs,” were initially thought to be a major cause of Valley Fever, but a new study from Scientific Reports might prove otherwise. According to scientists, contaminated soil may be the new cause.

The study began as a way for scientists to track potential biothreat agents in the air around major cities after 9/11, and while none were detected, the study supplied surprising results for something else: Valley Fever.

Dr. Dave Engelthaler, professor and director of TGEN North, joined us to discuss the findings.

TGEN research included examining air filters placed around the Valley to detect when the fungus was exposed to the air and when people were exposed.

According to Dr. Engelthaler, the fungus has possibly been contaminating the soil for many years and can be exposed to a human by simply digging in the soil. The contaminated soil is also said to impact wildlife and in some cases cause death.

“There are probably a thousand incidents a day all over the Valley that’s causing Valley Fever spores to get in the air, and sometimes maybe it’s new construction that can last for weeks to months, then there’s continued exposure,” said Dr. Engelthaler.

According to Dr. Engelthaler, watering the soil may prevent the fungus from being exposed to the air, yet it will continue to grow.

Dr. Dave Engelthaler, TGEN

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024
airs April 18

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates as part of ‘AZ Votes 2024’

Earth Day Challenge graphic with the Arizona PBS logo and an illustration of the earth

Help us meet the Earth Day Challenge!

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

The Capital building with text reading: Circle on Circle: Robert Lowell's D.C.
May 2

An evening with ‘Poetry in America’

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: