The individual health care costs of a severe case of valley fever can be devastating. But with thousands of cases of the fungal disease each year in California, what’s the cost to society? A new study makes an astounding estimate.

Between 2014 and 2017, reports of valley fever in California tripled to more than 7,000 cases, and the total has continued to rise ever since. While most who contract the disease will overcome it without presenting symptoms, the most severe cases, in which the infection disseminates beyond the lungs and into other organs, can require long-term treatment and lead to other health complications.

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