(KFYI News) — Medical experts say Thursday night's dust storm will likely bring a jump in the number of cases of Valley Fever.
Valley Fever is common on the desert southwest. It's a lung infection caused by a spore in the desert sand that gets kicked up when it's windy. If someone inhales the spore, they can contract Valley Fever, although many medical professionals have a difficult time diagnosing it.
Valley Fever symptoms are often similar to those of bronchitis or the flu: fever, cough, headache, rash, muscle aches, low energy, or joint pain.
Ashley Bergeron is a nurse at Banner Baywood Hospital in Mesa who came down with Valley Fever a couple of years ago. She says it was 18 months before the disease was diagnosed and could be properly treated.
She says some people can get very sick with Valley Fever, while others will never have any symptoms.
Bergeron says the best way to avoid Valley Fever is to go inside when you see a dust storm coming, and stay indoors on windy days. If you must be outside, she suggests keeping your nose and mouth covered, such as with a breathing mask like those sold in drug stores.
She says people who were caught outside at neighborhood festivals on Thursday night should definitely get tested for Valley Fever if they come down with bronchitis-like or flu-like symptoms in the next few weeks.