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Veterinary Public Health Program
313 N Figueroa St. Rm 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel (213) 288-7060
Fax (213) 481-2375
vet@ph.lacounty.gov
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Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever) in Animals in Los Angeles County
What is Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever)? 
It is an infection caused by a fungus called Coccidioides. The fungus lives in dirt in certain limited parts of the world. In Los Angeles County, the fungus is most common in the San Fernando Valley and in high desert areas, such as the Antelope Valley.  The fungus grows best in sandy, alkaline soils in areas with hot summers and warm winters. When the dirt is disturbed by digging or excavation, the fungal spores are released as dust into the air.
People and animals can become infected when they inhale the spores into the lungs.  Many people and animals develop immunity to the fungus and do not get sick, while other can become very ill. The fungus does not spread from person to person, or from animal to animal.

What are the symptoms of Valley Fever in animals?
Many types of animals can have Valley Fever, but the most serious infections are usually seen in dogs, cats and primates. The most common symptom in dogs is coughing, but may also include low appetite, limping, enlarged joints, fever and possibly diarrhea. Cats get infected less often, but may have skin problems (abscesses, draining lesions), fever, low appetite, and weight loss.

How do you know if your pet has Valley Fever?
Your veterinarian needs to perform tests to confirm the disease. Many times a combination of x-rays, blood tests, and sometimes biopsy are needed to confirm infection.

What is the treatment for Valley Fever in animals?
A veterinarian will prescribe antifungal medications. In some cases, these medications must be given to the animal for long periods of time.

Are there any cases of Valley Fever in animals in Los Angeles County?
Yes. In the decade between 2011 and 2020, a total of 173 cases of Valley Fever were reported in LA County domestic animals. In 41% of the cases, the animal had most likely become infected while in Southern California.

                               Map showing reported cases of coccidioidomycosis in animals in LA County from 2011-2020

Can humans get Valley Fever?
Yes.  Humans can get Valley Fever from the environment.  Click here to read more about Valley Fever in humans.

How can I protect my pet from Valley Fever?
In areas where Valley Fever is more common, avoid stirring up dirt or dust. Do not allow your pet to dig. When you must dig in soil yourself, use water to control dust. Keep your pet indoors, with windows closed, during dust storms.

Tracking Valley Fever in Animals in LA County
Valley Fever in animals is reportable in Los Angeles County. The reports help track trends in this disease. In 2014, laboratories were required to begin reporting cases, and the reports available increased. Cases are categorized as Confirmed, Probable, or Suspected based on the Coccidioidomycosis Case Definition for LA County. Of the 173 cases reported between 2011-2020, 60% were Confirmed, 27% were Probable, and 13% were Suspected.
             chart showing numbers of cases of valley fever in domestic animals in Los Angeles County from 2011-2020
*Why is there a drop in reported cases of Valley Fever in animals in Los Angeles County in 2019 and 2020?
While it appears that there is a significant decrease in reported Valley Fever cases in animals in Los Angeles County in 2019 and 2020, the actual incidence of disease or number of cases may not be fewer.  A laboratory that is required to report cases did not report between late 2019 and all of 2020 and this is largely responsible for the obvious drop in reported cases.  Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic may have had an impact on pets being taken in for veterinary visits and pets being tested for this disease.

Reporting Valley Fever Cases in Animals
VETERINARIANS: Report a case of coccidioidomycosis by using this form pdf icon 60 and email it in to vet@ph.lacounty.gov or fax to 213-481-2375.

Last updated: June 18, 2021
 
Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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