PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Is your fever, cough, and shortness of breath COVID-19, or another respiratory illness commonly found in the desert.

We are talking about Valley fever, which right now we are in the height of the season.

A local doctor says recognizing the difference is crucial to treatment.

Even though Valley fever is fungal and COVID-19 is viral, they share a wide arrange of symptoms.

“This is the season everybody tested probably has some cocci in their lungs but their immune system is strong enough to fight it off, but these guys with COVID-19 become immunocompromised,” said Phoenix Doctor Ed Westerfield.

Dr. Westerfield said he’s concerned that people might be confusing their fatigue, cough, fever, headaches and shortness of breath for Valley fever when they actually have COVID-19 or vice versa.

“Cocci spores, this is a fungus, lives in soil that is dry and literally that’s the entire Phoenix metroplex,” said Dr. Westerfield.

Valley fever is spread by breathing in cocci spores that comes from dirt, so outdoors, where many people have gone to get away from COVID-19.

“The people get exposed to Valley fever are people that work outside, construction workers, anybody doing anything athletic, that includes the guys taking their morning walk,” said Dr. Westerfield.

He said the diagnosis depends on specific laboratory tests.

In other words, If you don’t order the specific test, you may not get a diagnosis whether it’s COVID-19 or Valley fever.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms you should also consider being tested for Valley Fever.


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