TUCSON – Valley fever is a fungus that can only be found in Arizona and the San Joaquin Valley in California. It grows in the dirt and can be spread when the spores enter the air and get inhaled.
News 4 Tucson spoke with Dr. Jennifer Wilcox, the chief of veterinary services at the Pima Animal Care Center. Wilcox shared everything residents need to know about valley fever.
“I think it’s always been here,” Wilcox said. “It’s just a question of how carefully are people watching their pets. Because if they let it go too long, then we see the really severe cases coming it.”
Treatment plans can get expensive. Depending on the size of the animal, prescriptions can start at $130 a month for at least three months.
Signs of valley fever can be coughing, fever, weight loss, lack of appetite and lack of energy.
You can protect your pet by keeping them away from places where dirt often is kicked up into the air, such as a construction site.
“I think for all of us, the more important thing is to keep our animals healthy,” Wilcox said. “If their immune systems are solid, then they should be able to fend off valley fever.”
If you see any signs of valley fever in your animal, she said you should take them to the vet immediately.
“If they let it go too long, then we see the really severe cases coming in,” Wilcox said.
Severe cases like Mocha, who was turned into PACC without being able to walk on her hind leg.
“The damage may be permanent because it actually is affecting the spine,” Wilcox said.
That is why she said it is so important to be proactive and vigilant when it comes to your pet’s health.
For more information on valley fever, click here.