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Coccidioidomycosis Symptoms and Diagnosis

What Are the Symptoms of Coccidioidomycosis?

Many people infected with coccidioidomycosis have no or minimal symptoms. If there are symptoms, they usually occur one to three weeks after exposure and can last for a few weeks to a few months. Typical symptoms include:

How Coccidioidomycosis Is Diagnosed

Valley fever can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to other lung diseases. Doctors will first look at your medical and travel history and the results of a physical exam. If Valley fever is suspected, a blood test can help determine your immune system’s response to the fungus. If the test comes back abnormal, a diagnosis can be made. However, early in the course of infection, the initial test may come back negative, so you may need to take the test again. Other tests that may help diagnose coccidioidomycosis are:

  • Sputum samples, produced by coughing or obtained by bronchoscopy, to look for the fungus in a lab culture
  • Chest X-ray and/or CT scan (to look for pneumonia)
  • Biopsy of the affected site, typically the lung, to look for the fungus in the infected tissue

If you have a history of Valley fever, there is a skin test available that your doctor may order to determine if your body has an immune response to the fungus that causes coccidioidomycosis.

Healthcare providers outside the regions where the Coccidioides fungus is found may be less familiar with the disease, so diagnosis of coccidioidomycosis is often delayed and may require multiple doctor’s visits. To prevent coccidioidomycosis from going undiagnosed, specific tests may be needed.

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: March 3, 2020

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