Yuma, AZ -- Valley Fever germs uprooted by recent dust storms.
Yuma Regional Medical Center Infection Prevention nurse Jill Labossiere explains what Valley Fever is, "valley fever is a fungus found naturally here and it's in our soil."
Winds gusts as strong as 50 miles per hour last week stirred up huge dust clouds. Underneath it all, a harmful germ has been uprooted.
Labossiere says, "when soil becomes disturbed, that be through nature, like the dust storms about a week or so, the fungus clings to the soil. The soil becomes in the air and we share that air. We breath that air. We get the fungus in our bodies."
According to Labossiere, a number of cases are found locally, "50,000 people in the United States develop Valley Fever, the disease. 2/3's of those people are in Arizona."
Specifically, in nearby counties including Maricopa county, Pinal county and Pima county.
However, Labossiere says most people's immune systems will fight the fungus,"healthy people like you and I can breath the fungus germ. We may have no symptoms. We may never have symptoms. We may never ever know we have the germ. But if you have a chronic health condition than you're at a lot higher risk and you really need to watch for symptoms."
Valley Fever symptoms are flu like. They're usually noticed about a week after exposure or even up to a month afterwards. Labossiere says one key difference, many Valley Fever patients begin to develop skin rashes.
She says exposure is higher with dust storms, like the ones we've seen recently,"if you were out in the dust storm or any dust storm in Arizona and develop symptoms or a weird rash or flu like symptoms call your doctor and just double check it to be sure you have it or you don't have it."