Valley Fever Found in Southcentral Washington - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Valley Fever Found in Southcentral Washington

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BENTON CITY, WA- Regional and national health officials are actively testing soil in our region after cases of "Valley Fever" or coccidioidomycosis, a fungal disease have been reported.

Often times it is found in southern states like Arizona, and mimics symptoms of other diseases like influenza.

Doctor Person with the Benton Franklin Health District said health care providers are getting notices about Valley Fever, and they are even holding seminars on the disease.

The CDC tells us you can contract it by moving dirt around and inhaling the spores of the fungus, essentially breathing it in, without knowing it.

"The laboratory has developed techniques to actually culture the fungus out of the soil and they have a "PCR" or preliminary chain reaction test. With that, they can identify what fungus is in the soil," explained Oroin McCotter, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control.

"It's now a reportable illness so when health care providers see patients with it, they are required to report it to the health department," said Dr. Amy Person with the Benton Franklin Health District.

Most people can recover from Valley Fever without medication, but within the last five years, eight people had it, and one died from the disease. Those reports came from Benton, Franklin, Yakima and Walla Walla counties.

60% of people infected, do not have symptoms. If you are experiencing a chronic illness, health officials say to specifically ask your doctor about Valley Fever.

A public open house is scheduled for Thursday at the Benton Franklin Health District in Kennewick from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Federal, state and local health professional will be able to answer more questions there.