PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Two Arizona congressmen from opposite sides of the aisle are trying raise awareness about Valley fever as the number of diagnosed cases in Arizona is skyrocketing.

Reps. David Schweikert (R) and Greg Stanton (D) co-sponsored the FORWARD Act, which also aims to raise funding for possible cures or vaccines.

[WATCH: What's not mentioned in the act]

On Wednesday, they held a panel discussion with doctors and survivors of Valley fever in Phoenix.

[RELATED: Lawmakers from Arizona push for bill to find a cure for Valley fever]

[AND THIS: Dust storms heighten risk of Valley fever]

The Arizona Department of Health Services reports there are about 6,200 verified cases on the potentially lethal illness as of Wednesday.

That is an increase over last year when the department reported about 5,200 through the end of August.

Valley fever is a fungal infection of the lungs. The fungus grows in Arizona's soil. It's also found in central and southern California, and parts of Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. 

While the fungus is found in other states and parts of Center and South America, genetic testing by scientists in Flagstaff determined that the disease originated here in Arizona.

And the disease does not just affect humans. Dogs suffer from it, as well.

[RELATED: Veterinarians warn Valley fever is on the rise in dogs after monsoon season (Nov. 8, 2018)]

 


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