Coccidioidomycosis is an infectious disease caused
by inhaling spores of a fungus called Coccidioides
immitis. The disease generally begins as a
respiratory illness and may progress to a persistent
Disseminated coccidioidomycosis, an
uncommon but severe form of the disease, is frequently fatal.
Who gets coccidioidomycosis?
Anyone who is present near dust-producing
activities where soil or other materials contaminated
with C. immitis can get coccidioidomycosis if
enough spores are inhaled.
People of African or
Asian descent, pregnant women and people who are
immunocompromised are at increased risk for
developing disseminated coccidioidomycosis.
C. immitis grows in arid (dry) and semiarid areas of
the Western Hemisphere. In the United States, this
range extends from California to southern Texas,
and includes areas of Nevada.
How is coccidioidomycosis spread?
Coccidioidomycosis is not contagious; it cannot be
transmitted from an infected person or animal to
someone else. People are infected with C. immitis when they inhale spores. Dusty objects from areas
where C. immitis is common may contain infective
What are the symptoms of
Coccidioidomycosis first infects a person's lungs.
The primary disease may produce no symptoms at
all or may produce a fever, chills and cough. This
infection may heal completely, or result in other
complications, including permanent damage to the
Approximately one out of a thousand cases of
coccicioidomycosis will progress to disseminated
coccidioidomycosis, which is the most severe form of
the disease. People with disseminated disease form
lesions in the lung and abscesses throughout the
How soon after exposure do symptoms
Symptoms of disease usually start within one to four
weeks after exposure. Disseminated disease may
develop years after the primary infection (even when
the primary infection was so mild that the patient
does not remember having it).
How is coccidioidomycosis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of coccicioidomycosis is made by
finding the fungus in the patient's sputum, pus,
urine, cerebrospinal fluid, or in biopsies of skin
lesions or affected organs. A diagnosis may also be
made using skin or blood tests.
What is the treatment for coccidioidomycosis?
Mild cases of coccidioidomycosis usually resolve
without treatment. For severe cases, antifungal
medications are needed.
Disseminated coccidioidomycosis is fatal if untreated, but death
can also occur in some patients even when medical
treatment is received.
How can coccidioidomycosis be prevented?
The best way to prevent exposures to C. immitis spores is to avoid situations where soil that might be
contaminated can be inhaled.
If materials that are potentially contaminated must be removed, contact your local health department for specific advice on how to protect yourself.
Where can I get more information?
Contact your doctor or the Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.