Valley Fever is a common ailment in Arizona but it's often misdiagnosed. Patients can delayed or incorrect information, leading to complications.
But a new program is changing that and Tucson doctors are leading the cause.
November 10 through 18 is Valley Fever Awareness Week. It's also peak time for the disease.
Dr. John Galgiani is the director at the Valley Fever Center for Excellence (VFCE) at the University of Arizona. He says early diagnosis is crucial when it comes to this disease.
Valley Fever is a respiratory fungal infection that occurs when spores found in soil are inhaled. It's often misdiagnosed, so now, the VFCE teamed up with Banner Health to launch new guidelines for doctors to help them recognize Valley Fever in patients sooner.
"Doctors need to know about this," Galgiani said. "Some, in fact, many train in other parts of the country where this is a very rare disease. So when they come and start practice here, they don't have the training that makes them think automatically that this is an important disease."
Weekly training sessions will be held for doctors starting Tuesday, Nov. 20 in Maricopa. The new guidelines go over symptoms to look for, risk factors, and proper lab tests.
Awareness isn't limited to doctors, Galgiani says the general public also needs to know about Valley Fever. Symptoms include chest pain, cough, and fatigue which often lead to patients being diagnosed with the flu or another illness.
"If they know that it does occur here in Tucson and elsewhere in south central Arizona, that when they get sick, they can ask their doctor, 'Do you think this could be Valley Fever?'" Galgiani said. "And that question might prompt earlier diagnosis.