Lawsuits have been filed by people who developed severe lung infections after they were infected with Valley fever, a fungal infection that is caused by breathing dry, dusty air.
Need a Texas Valley Fever Lawyer? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you were diagnosed with Valley Fever, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit.
What is Valley Fever?
Valley fever is a fungal lung infection that is caused by breathing in spores of the fungus Coccidioides, which grows naturally in the soil in parts of Texas and other dry, dusty regions in the U.S. The infection is also known as “coccidioidomycosis,” and it can be deadly.
Valley Fever: An Endemic Disease in Texas
The fungus that causes Valley fever is endemic to Texas, especially West Texas, which means that it grows naturally in the soil. However, the state of Texas does not report cases of Valley fever to health officials, so no one knows how many people in Texas are getting sick.
Cases of Valley Fever Are Skyrocketing in U.S.
The reported cases of Valley fever have skyrocketed in the U.S. in recent years, increasing from around 2,200 cases in 1998 to more than 20,000 cases in 2019 — but many cases are never reported to the CDC.
Why is Valley Fever Becoming More Common?
Experts know that cases of Valley fever are increasing for several reasons, including climate change expanding dry and dusty regions in Texas where the Valley fever fungus grows, and more people moving to live in those areas. When the soil is disturbed, the spores of the fungus float in the air, get into people’s lungs, and make them sick.
Does Everyone Get Sick?
No. About 60% of people who breathe in spores of the fungus Coccidioides do not get Valley fever. Some people have only a mild flu-like illness, while others get very sick. In the most severe cases of Valley fever, it starts as a lung infection with trouble breathing or pneumonia. Then it spreads to other parts of the body (called “disseminated Valley fever”), which can be deadly.
Long-Term Complications of Valley Fever
About 5-10% of people who are diagnosed with Valley fever develop serious, long-term lung problems that persist for several years. About 1% of people develop severe infections in other parts of the body, such as the brain, spinal cord, bones, skin, or other organs. This type of Valley fever can cause permanent brain damage or even death.
Treatment for Valley Fever
Doctors can treat Valley fever with anti-fungal medications, such as fluconazole. However, the risk of complications increases dramatically for people who are not properly diagnosed right away. The longer the infection persists, the greater the risk that it will spread in the body or develop into meningitis.
People with severe infections may need to be hospitalized. The treatment may be 6 months or longer. Valley fever can also develop into meningitis, so lifelong anti-fungal therapy may be required.
Symptoms of Valley Fever
According to the CDC, symptoms of Valley fever occur 1-3 weeks after breathing in the fungus. The symptoms may include:
- Trouble breathing (shortness of breath)
- Night sweats
- Muscle aches or joint pain
- And more
Who Is At Risk?
Anyone who lives, works, or visits an area where the Valley fever fungus grows can be infected if they breathe in the fungal spores. Fortunately, Valley fever does not spread from person-to-person. It is most common during the late summer and fall, especially for people who work outdoors, operate heavy machinery, or dig in the dirt.
Jobs With High Risk of Valley Fever
- Construction workers
- Road crews, trench digging, excavation, etc.
- Farm and agricultural workers
- Archeological workers
- Military personnel / trainees
- Wildland firefighters
- Workers in mining, gas and oil extraction jobs
- And more
Valley Fever Lawsuits
Lawsuits have been filed by people who were diagnosed with Valley fever on the job — and even prison inmates. Work-related outbreaks of Valley fever have occurred in people digging trenches, prisons in California, and TV cast and crew members who were filming outdoors.
Caltrans Ordered to Pay $12 Million in Valley Fever Lawsuit
In January 2016, Caltrans was ordered to pay $12 million to a group of 5 construction workers who developed Valley fever. The jury found that Caltrans failed to take steps to prevent the workers from breathing in dusty air at an excavation site that was known to be contaminated with the Valley fever fungus, Coccidioides.
$425,000 Settlement in Valley Fever Lawsuit Filed by Prison Inmate
In August 2012, a prison inmate who contracted Valley fever at a prison in California was awarded a $425,000 settlement from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Since then, dozens of current and former inmates have filed lawsuits, blaming the state for failing to address the issue of Valley fever outbreaks in areas where it is common, such as Kern County.
Need a Valley Fever Lawyer in Texas?
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