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'Valley Fever' is growing concern for Central Coast health experts

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Central Coast health experts say there is growing local concern over the disease known as 'Valley Fever'. The number of cases statewide is rising, with more than 4,000 reported in 2012—likely just a fraction of those who actually came down with it.

San Luis Obispo County Epidemiologist Ann McDowell says it's important that local health care professionals understand the disease, so they can diagnose it properly.

"Even though they call it 'Valley Fever' and makes you think of San Joaquin Valley, our soil hosts this particular fungus and allows it to grow and spread into people who are disturbing the soil," said McDowell.

Valley Fever is easily treated with an antifungal medication, when it's properly identified. Symptoms can include fever, chest pain, and coughing. 

A regional clinic for health care workers is being held next month in Bakersfield to reduce the rate of misdiagnosis.