TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Valley fever numbers are the rise.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the recorded number of people who have gotten Valley fever through March of this year is more than 1,000 people higher than through March of last year.
The biggest increase when comparing this year to last came in January. There were 1,055 recorded cases of Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) in January compared to 529 in January 2017. In February the difference wasn't as large. There were 742 recorded cases in February and 419 in February 2017. And in March, the difference between 2018 and 2017 continued to grow smaller with 664 recorded cases and 412 in March 2017.
The total number of recorded cases is greater than the total number of recorded Valley fever cases by this time in 2017. The total number of recorded cases as of March of this year is 2,461. In 2017, the total through March was 1,360.
If April has more than 427 recorded cases of Valley fever, it will continue the streak of Valley fever cases surpassing the 2017 numbers.
Researchers at the University of Arizona say the increase of Valley fever cases makes sense considering the time of year and the dry weather.
"There's a seasonality to this," said Professor John Galgiani of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence. "We're entering one of those seasons right now as the winter rains have stopped and things seem to dry right out. Then when we get the monsoon, numbers tend to go down and tack rates go down until the fall when numbers come back up."
Valley fever can also affect dogs. In fact, dogs are more likely to get it. And living in Arizona also increases your chances of catching Valley fever. Researchers at the Valley Fever Center for Excellence say that two thirds of Valley fever cases in the U.S. are contracted in Arizona.
Remember when hiking in or if you get caught outside during a dust storm that soil is where you get Valley fever. Spores from a specific fungus in the dirt come out when dirt is disturbed.
Some symptoms of Valley fever include fatigue, muscle aches, and red bumps along your shins and forearms. If you think you may have Valley fever call your doctor immediately.
For a list of doctors that deal specifically with Valley fever click HERE.