Valley fever is caused by a fungus that lives in the soil and its infectious form infects dogs and their owners. Dogs frequently get the disease as they tend to sniff the ground and therefore inhale the organisms. Cat rarely get the disease both for being more housebound and that they are not as enthusiastic ground sniffers.
80%-90% of the cases in dogs will have the common symptoms of coughing fever and possible lameness. X-rays will have easy to interpret findings and blood tests will conform the disease.
Valley fever however can do many other things and an occasionally patient may show unusual symptoms and may not have the classical changes on blood work.
Almost all the dogs who get valley fever will get better with medication and within 10 days to 6 weeks it will be obvious the patient is feeling better. Unfortunately, there are a few pets who remain deathly ill and do not turn around. These patients may need significant supportive care while we are waiting for the disease to turn around. Most pets need a year of therapy to be cured with a number of patients needing longer or occasionally lifetime treatment.
Fluconazole is the drug most frequently used. It is very well tolerated by most dogs but an occasional pet may have problems with it and blood tests are used to monitor for serious side effects.
IF YOU TRAVEL A LOT WITH YOUR PET OR ARE PART TIMERS IN ARIZONA IT IS IMPORTANT TO TELL THE VET IN THE OTHER STATE THAT YOU HAVE BEEN IN ARIZONA…ALSO IF YOU SHOULD GET SICK PLEASE TELL YOUR DOCTOR.
Valley fever is found only in Arizona and small areas of California. Veterinarians and medical doctors may not think of the disease.
Please note …when you hear on a TV commercial about a new drug and they ask you to inform your doctor if you have traveled in areas of the country where certain fungal infections are common…they are referring to Arizona.