The fungus that causes Valley Fever is common in the dusty fields of California’s Central Valley. Here, a woman walks through a dry riverbed in Tulare County.

Photo by Sean Havey


In parts of the American Southwest and northern Mexico, a mysterious disease lurks in the dirt. There’s no cure for Valley Fever and little funding for research, but those who get sick can face a host of lifelong problems that can lead to death.

As Dr. Jared Rutledge explains, “People can get infected when they inhale the fungal spores, the microscopic part of the fungus that allows it to reproduce, like a seed to a plant.”

Once the spores are airborne, the wind can carry them for miles. In California, this means that the residents of the south Central Valley who are most at risk. Latino USA’s California Endowment reporting fellow Vanessa Rancaño brings us this story.

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