Valley fever can infect animals as well as humans - Tucson News Now

Valley fever can infect animals as well as humans

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

It is not only people who need to worry about getting valley fever - pets are also at risk as well.

Researchers at the University of Arizona say a majority of the pet cases of valley fever are from dogs. But it does not mean that other animals like cats or horses cannot get it. 

Valley fever is caused by a fungus that lives in the desert soil; as part of its life cycle the fungus dries up.  So when the soil is disturbed by construction, walking or high winds it turns into fungal spores and it gets inhaled. 

The sickness begins when the animal's immune system does not kill the endospores, which can spread through the animal's body. The most common signs of valley fever, coughing, weight loss and lack of energy. 

Treatment consists of oral anti-fungal treatment that could last between six months to a year.  The U of A says valley fever is not contagious and there are a few things the public can do to reduce the risk of their animals getting the fungus.

They are - avoid activities that generate dust and keep them from digging in the dirt.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now All rights reserved.

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