As illnesses like Valley fever emerge in new areas, health officials keep residents informed instead of in fear.
When the first locally acquired case of Valley fever was diagnosed in Washington in 2010, health officials were stunned. The disease had only appeared in the state in patients who had recently traveled to the warm and dry corners of the Southwest, said Heather Hill, a communicable disease expert for the Benton-Franklin Health District in south-central Washington. But since that time, the disease has been found east of the Cascade Mountains, where an active agricultural industry, and hot, dry summers provide conditions for the disease to thrive. “It’s probably salted all across eastern Washington,” Hill said.
Now, new research suggests that Valley fever will continue to spread as the climate changes. This growth is a reflection of a greater trend across the nation as mosquito-borne West Nile virus and tick-borne Lyme disease also expand their range.
Photo credit: (CC BY 2.0), flickr, Credit: NIAID