Valley Fever in Dogs
Definition of Valley Fever in Dogs
“Valley Fever” is the common name for coccidioidomycosis, which is an uncommon but extremely severe and potentially fatal disease caused by Coccidioides immitis. This fungus thrives in the hot, dry, dusty areas of the deep southwestern United States and in parts of Central and South America. It normally lives in a dormant state several inches down in dry soil. After a good rainfall, the fungi come back to life and spread by wind and dust storms. Earthquakes, building demolition, land construction projects and other things that cause substantial soil disruption can also trigger release of the fungi. Dogs can get Valley Fever by inhaling just a few of the highly infectious fungal spores. Many infected dogs never actually get sick. However, those that do can become seriously ill, developing breathing problems, cough, weakness, lameness, weight loss, severe pain and seizures. This disease can be fatal.
In the deep southwestern areas of the United States, particularly in arid desert regions of Arizona, California and Texas and less commonly in New Mexico, Nevada or Utah, the fungus Coccidioides immitis persists naturally several inches down in the soil. During periods of drought, the fungi exist in a dormant stage. Following periods of rainfall, the fungi sporulate and release many infectious stages of the organism called “arthroconidia,” that spread by wind, dust and rain
Most cases of Valley Fever are subclinical, meaning that the dog is infected by the fungi but does not develop observable symptoms. These animals probably never will be diagnosed or require treatment. However, when clinical illness does develop, it can be life-threatening. The early signs of Valley Fever are nonspecific and primarily respiratory. Owners of affected dogs may notice one or more of the following signs in the early course of the disease:As the infection
Valley Fever should be suspected in any dog that lives in or travels through endemic areas and develops chronic upper and/or lower respiratory signs, together with enlarged lymph nodes. Veterinarians presented with such a patient will of course perform a thorough physical examination of the dog and take a complete history from the owner. They also may perform a complete blood count and serum biochemistry panel on a blood sample, the results of which can
Valley Fever, medically called coccidioidomycosis, is a potentially fatal fungal disease in domestic dogs. Successful treatment is possible if the infection is properly and promptly diagnosed. However, treatment can take more than one year to complete. The goals of treating this disease are to prevent further dissemination of the fungal organism, eradicate the fungi from the dog’s body and restore the dog’s quality of life.Most dogs with Valley Fever are treated as outpatients. Supportive care