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Coccidioidomycosis - Symptoms & Treatment


Coccidioidomycosis (also known as Valley fever and California valley fever ) is a fungal disease. The infection spreads through the bloodstream and involves many organs. Affected areas are in the lower Sonoran areas, which are characterized by semiarid climates with hot summers and alkaline soil. These areas include northern Mexico, Central America, and South America. The disease can have an acute, chronic, or disseminated form. Acute pulmonary coccidioidomycosis is almost always mild, with few or no symptoms, and resolves without treatment. The incubation period is 7 to 21 days. People with a compromised immune system tend to have more serious infections. Coccidioidomycosis is caused by Coccidioides immitis, a dimorphic fungus that grows as a mold in the soil. Coccidioidomycosis occurs in a primary and in a secondary form. Infection is caused by inhalation of airborne, fungal particles known as arthroconidia, which are a form of spore. Amphotericin B is often selected for treatment of patients with respiratory failure due to Coccidioides immitis or rapidly progressive coccidioidal infections. Construction or agricultural workers, and archeologists who are exposed to dust are also at risk. The disease is not transmitted from person to person.

A history of travel to an endemic region is the key to suspecting coccidioidal infection. The round cells, which develop into spherules, undergo repeated internal divisions until they are filled with hundreds to thousands of offspring, termed endospores. This process occurs over 48 to 72 hours. Infections (lung abscesses ) can form and rupture releasing pus ( empyema ) between the lungs and ribs (pleural space). This disorder is even less common than the acute form. The natural history of C immitis infection is usually one of a self-limited respiratory tract infection, which occurs 1-3 weeks after exposure. The most common clinical presentation in diagnosed cases of coccidioidomycosis is acute or subacute pneumonic illness. The progressive form is often a sign that the person has a weakened immune system, usually because of AIDS. Most C immitis infections remain confined to the lung and hilar nodes. The body responds to the presence of the endospores with activation of complement and release of chemotactic factors. Coccidioidomycosis meningitis can lead to permanent brain damage.

Causes of Coccidioidomycosis

The common causes and risk factor's of Coccidioidomycosis include the following:

  • Coccidioides immitis, a dimorphic fungus that grows as a mold in the soil.
  • Individuals with AIDS.
  • The disease tends to be more serious in dark-skinned people.
  • Construction or agricultural workers, and archeologists who are exposed to dust are also at risk.
  • People of African or Asian descent, pregnant women and people who are immunocompromised are at increased risk for developing disseminated coccidioidomycosis.

Symptoms of Coccidioidomycosis

Some sign and symptoms related to Coccidioidomycosis are as follows:

  • Fever and chills.
  • Night sweats.
  • Blood-tinged sputum.
  • Ankle, feet, and leg swelling.
  • Neck stiffness or shoulder stiffness
  • Change in mental status.
  • Weight loss.
  • Headaches.
  • Body aches.
  • Chest pain and joint pains.

Treatment of Coccidioidomycosis

Here is list of the methods for treating Coccidioidomycosis:

  • Amphotericin B, which must be given intravenously and is considerably toxic, triazole compounds have been found to be active agents for treating most manifestations of coccidioidomycosis.
  • In severe forms of the disease, antifungal treatment with amphotericin B, fluconazole, or itraconazole can be used.
  • Pills may be recommended to kill the fungus.
  • Alternatively, the doctor may treat the infection with ketoconazole.
  • Joint involvement can be managed by incision and drainage, although occasionally synovectomy and arthrodesis are needed.

 

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